Recovery Strategies

Recovery has two contexts when used in the world of sport. There is ‘recovery’ from injury which usually takes a collaborate approach between the sports doctor, strength and conditioning coach, physiotherapist and massage therapist to return the athlete to training and competition. Then there is ‘recovery’ from the training session itself and from the competition. In this modern era of competitive sport, elite athletes train up to 5-6 hours per day, six times per week. Just to complete this volume of training requires an incredible level of fitness. In order for athletes to be able to back up for these back-to-back training sessions many have very specific recovery protocols in place. The idea is to return the body to homeostasis (the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes) as soon as possible following a training session. Invariably the human body can return itself to homeostasis in time, however specific recovery protocols can speed up this process.the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes) as soon as possible following a training session. Invariably the human body can return itself to homeostasis in time, however specific recovery protocols can speed up this process.

Recovery is a general term used to describe the adaptations to workloads after an athlete has been exposed to training or competition. For a healthy, functional athlete ‘recovery’ refers to a positive response to training stimuli leading to positive adaptation to those stressors. Positive recovery equals restoration (where physiological markers return to normal levels) & regeneration (where psychological traits particularly associated with mood states return to normal levels).

Failure to recover regularly from training and competition invariably leads to ongoing fatigue and negative adaptation. The staples of recovery are cool down (considered as ‘active’ recovery) strategies (https://www.peakpreparation.com.au/services/warm-up-and-cool-down-strategies), nutrition and hydration strategies (https://www.peakpreparation.com.au/services/nutrition-and-hydration-strategies) and sleep strategies (https://www.peakpreparation.com.au/services/sleep-strategies) but also include innovative strategies such as cold water immersion, contrast water therapy, compression and soft tissue treatment. These latter strategies are all considered ‘passive’ recovery strategies. Passive recovery can also include psychological recovery such as visualisation, breathing techniques and meditation. However,

  • Hydrostatic pressure from water immersion is important for decreasing heart rate following exercise and enhancing the parasympathetic response
  • Immersion in cold water specifically, helps reduce the body’s core temperate following exercise and releases dopamine which can reduce the feeling of pain following training
  • Recent data suggest that CWI may translate to smaller long-term training gains in muscle strength and hypertrophy. The use of CWI as a regular post-exercise recovery strategy should be reconsidered.

Peak Preparation will introduce you to multiple methods of recovery and help you establish the right combination of recovery strategies to suit your individual requirements.