by Rebecca Lee 07.11.08
For elite athletes to maintain the balance of intense training programmes and high level competition with rest and downtime, recovery is a vital part of their day-to-day schedule.
Athletes must utilise the best techniques available, however with so many different methods used for recovery, the English Institute of Sport (EIS) identified the need to research the best strategies to help them obtain optimum results.
“A variety of strategies have become common practice amongst athletes in an attempt to enhance recovery from training and increase performance” says EIS National Physiology Lead Ken Van Someren. “These include water immersion, contrast bathing and compression garments. At present however, the evidence to support the use of such strategies is equivocal.
“The key purpose of this research is to provide evidence-based guidelines on the use of recovery strategies; in addition, the research will further our understanding of the physiological mechanisms of training stress and adaptation” he explains.
EIS Physiologist Jonathan Leeder has been set the task of researching the techniques available in order to inform coaches and athletes of the most effective techniques available to them.
“The research will focus on exercise stimuli that represent real world sporting situations and how cold water immersion and compression garments can potentially enhance recovery time and/or training adaptation” explains Leeder.
“For example, we will focus upon how intermittent sporting activity affects various ‘biomarkers’ of both muscle damage and training adaptation and ascertain how different recovery strategies may influence/manipulate them” he adds.
The value of effective recovery cannot be underestimated and, according to Leeder, the basics are just as important as additional techniques.
“It is vital athletes get the basics correct before undertaking specific recovery strategies” he says.
“After a standard training session, it is essential to warm down, re-hydrate and consume appropriate carbohydrate and protein followed by a good nights sleep. It is the combination of practicing these basic essentials and using additional recovery strategies that may contribute to making a performance difference. Unlike the misconception of many recreational athletes, recovery strategies are not a replacement for best practice of the basics.”