Optimal Sporting Recovery

We are regularly asked about optimal recovery methods following sport, especially in team tournament situations where players are expected to perform, day-after-day. Contact and dynamic sports combine high-intensity exercise with repeated, forceful movements causing soft tissue trauma, reduced muscle function and increased muscle soreness [1, 2]. Furthermore, impairments in athletic performance and increased injury rates reported following repeated competition [1, 3]. Effective recovery positively influences physiological and psychological mechanisms, enhancing preparedness for subsequent training and competition [1, 2]. This is partly due to accelerated rate and quality of muscle repair, counteracting the detrimental symptoms of soft tissue trauma [2].

Many recovery methods exist, including active recovery, compression garments, cold water immersion and contrast water therapy (hot/colds) [1, 2]. All of these methods have varied but positive recovery findings within varied sporting groups and athlete abilities. For practical application, from existing evidence, utilising hydrotherapy methods such as full body cold water immersion (10-15˚c for 10-15mins) and contrast water therapy (10-15˚c cold 30-120secs and 38-42˚c hot 60-180secs for 3-10 rotations) have been shown to enhance athlete recovery [2]. Furthermore, incorporating active recovery for 15-20 minutes following activity has been shown to have more positive results than passive static stretching. Also using compression garments within 24 hours following games promotes greater recovery [1, 2]. Individual responses to recovery methods vary, particularly following repeat competitions. However, recent systematic reviews have all agreed that none of the above methods should take the place of appropriate rest and nutrition following an event for athletes. This should always remain paramount.

At Avenues Physio-Fitness our physiotherapists have vast experience in the sporting setting including national and international level hockey, rugby and gymnastics. Please discuss any of your sporting needs with our team.

  1. Gill, N.D., C.M. Beaven, and C. Cook, Effectiveness of post-match recovery strategies in rugby players. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE, 2006(3): p. 260.
  2. Webb, N.P., THE USE OF POST-GAME RECOVERY MODALITIES FOLLOWING TEAM CONTACT SPORT: A REVIEW. Journal of Australian Strength & Conditioning, 2013. 21(4): p. 70-79.
  3. Pointon, M. and R. Duffield, Cold Water Immersion Recovery after Simulated Collision Sport Exercise. 2012.