Optimising Recovery

Optimizing Recovery: Making Sense of the Noise

Traditionally, the world of physical training & sport performance has focused on the optimization of the training process itself. Debates have raged on in the fitness world about different training regimes, perfecting exercise selection, the best exercise modalities or the best set/rep schemes, the list goes on. Irrespective of your athletic goals, optimizing training was considered the key ingredient to the health, sport performance and physique of an individual.

More recently, both elite sport and mainstream fitness enthusiasts have now begun to understand that optimizing the training process is only one half of the equation. Now, there is a greater appreciation that optimal recovery is just as important, if not more important. This growing awareness, timed with the rise of sport technology, has seen an explosion in recovery technology available. While the improved understand of recovery’s role is positive, it has also increased the level of misinformation or ‘noise’, which can make it difficult to understand how to best recover.

In today’s blog, we will provide a short explanation of why recovery is important, what recovery strategies are available and most importantly; provide an evidence-based framework to guide the priority of different recovery strategies.

Why Is Recovery So Important?

To understand why recovery is so important, we need to understand that physical training is a ‘stress’ to our bodies. When structured correctly, this stress is good, as it provides us with the opportunity to adapt our bodies. Adaption means that our bodies will grow and develop to better handle the stress placed on it next time. However, while physical training provides us with the opportunity to adapt, it is in the recovery phase where the adaptation and thus improvements to our bodies occur. This means, without adequate recovery, our bodies will be placed under too much stress with not enough time to adapt, losing all the potential benefits gained from recovery.

What Recovery Strategies Are Available?

Currently, there are lots to choose from. Some are cheap, some are expensive. Some require no equipment; some require specific equipment. Fortunately, many of the best recovery strategies are also readably accessible. Commonly mentioned recovery strategies include:

  • Sleeping
  • Nutrition/Hydration
  • Water Immersion (Hot Therapy, Cold Therapy, Ice Bath)
  • Active Recovery/Stretching/Mobility
  • Massage
  • Massage Guns, EMS, Vibration
  • Cryotherapy

What does the research suggest?

There is a lot of ‘noise’ on the internet about different recovery strategies and whether they truly work. The significant number of options available now is positive but can also create uncertainty about what is best for the individual. Shona Halson; a sleep and recovery expert, developed an excellent summary of the effectiveness of different recovery strategies based on the available research. The experts from YLM sport science have created an excellent visual summary of this research which can be seen below

What are the key messages from this?

In short, high-quality sleep, well-balanced nutrition and consistent hydration are still considered the best recovery strategies an individual can implement to get the very best out of their training and performance. This should be a priority before considering any of the other remaining strategies available.

Once consistent with the above, additional recovery strategies that have moderate evidence of being effective include Water Immersion (hot/cold), Active Recovery, Compression. These strategies would be good as an ‘add-on’ to the first principal approaches above.

Finally, some additional recovery strategies that may provide that added edge if you are in training or competing at a higher level include but are not limited to: Massage, Massage Guns, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, Vibration and Cryotherapy Therapy. If an individual’s sleep, nutrition, and hydration are poor, it is these modalities would not be able to make up for lost recovery.

If you need help structuring your recovery process to ensure you are getting the most out of your training, make sure you get down to the team at BeFit Training Physiotherapy or search us online at our Coogee or Double Bay locations.

References:

  1. Human Kinetics. (2021, July 15). What are the best recovery strategies for athletes? Retrieved from Human Kinetics Blog website: https://humankinetics.me/2021/07/15/what-are-the-best-recovery-strategies-for-athletes/
  2. McGuigan, M. (2017, January 1). Understand the General Adaptation Syndrome Model. Retrieved from Human Kinetics website: https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/understand-the-general-adaptation-syndrome-model
  3. YLM Sport Science. (2023, April 3). What are the best recovery strategies for athletes? The recovery pyramid. Retrieved from YLMSportScience website: https://ylmsportscience.com/2023/04/03/what-are-the-best-recovery-strategies-for-athletes-the-recovery-pyramid/
Sam Wadley - BeFit Training Physio Coogee & Double Bay

Sam Wadley - BeFit Training Physio Coogee & Double Bay

Sam Wadley is a physiotherapist based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Sam has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Sam has extensive experience in strength and conditioning which is expertly applied in physiotherapy. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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