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Improve your “Bouncebackability”!

Everyone needs recovery time as part of any training programme.  However, if you have your focus set on an event, down-time sometimes feels like ‘wasted-time’ because we are not training.

If you are like the majority of people, you’ll then go looking for options to speed up recovery and get us back training as quickly as possible.

There’s all sorts of lotions, potions, tricks and trades that promise wonderful effects to get you back training harder than ever, quicker than ever.  How much of this is true, and how much of this is placebo?

  • Compression Clothing

There are plenty of brands out there offering their own version of compression kit. Many claiming reductions in fatigue and muscle soreness during exercise, alongside improvements in circulation and recovery after, but does squeezing yourself into compression tights, tops and socks help?

YES. But typically post-workout.

Of the studies completed to-date, no-one has managed to find significant advantages of wearing compression during a workout. But there have been some interesting outcomes in terms of recovery post-workout. So put your compression on when you get home.

  • Stretching

Probably the most controversial method. There has been argument after argument around whether stretching works. Before? After? Static? Dynamic? Hold them? Don’t hold them? The options are endless! When it comes to recovery though the answer is….

NO. The research just isn’t there. Studies into the effects of stretching (and there have been a few) cant come up with any solid evidence that stretching aids recovery. Interestingly though, one looking at hamstring recovery suggested that it did slightly reduce pain perception.

  • Foam Rollers

Like marmite, you either love it or hate it!  The dreaded foam rolling of sore muscles is often the last thing want to do at the end of a session. The theory tells you it mobilises muscle tissue and promotes circulation to aid your recovery, the practice often demonstrates how many expletives you have at your disposal.

YES. The positive research out there definitely shows some good results on improving DOMS recovery, but there isn’t any solid data on specific protocols and how long to do it for.

  • Sports Massage

Although often more relaxing than foam rolling, sports massage can sometimes be another fairly uncomfortable experience. Contrary to some attitudes though, harder/deeper doesn’t mean better. Does it help recovery though?

YES & NO. Interestingly there has been research data to show sports massage benefits in pain reduction and symptoms associated with a tough workout. It’ll help you get over that initial pain post-activity.

However, there have been other studies that question the long-term benefits, suggesting that it doesn’t return you to pre-workout strength any quicker.

  • Ice Baths

What could be more appealing than jumping into a bath of freezing cold water after your training session?  The theory behind ice bathing is that it reduces inflammation and controls the build-up of post-exercise waste products and DOMS. However, there are less and less research studies backing this.

NO. Although it may reduce the build up of inflammation by restricting circulation. This circulation is actually needed to bring new replenishing nutrients to the area for recovery.

  • Low Intensity Exercise

The morning after the big event, when you’re tired and achey, doing more exercise would go against initial intuition. Does the ‘recovery’ session work, or is it best to stay in bed or on the sofa basking in the glory of your achievement?

YES. In effect, it is the opposite of ice bathing. Increasing your heart rate slightly, will increase the circulation around those sore muscles acting to deliver all the replenishing nutrients they need. The important point to this is make sure the intensity is low enough! Try to keep impact to a minimum, so all you runners could consider a bike ride or swim for 30 minutes.

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