Choose the right RECOVERY methods for YOU .

This time of year marks the pointy end of the winter season for sports such as netball, rugby, basketball and football as they head into finals series….

So what can you do to find any extra advantage that will make you and your team better?

Your body may have held up well for the majority of the year but right now you are probably the most vulnerable to soreness and injury that you have been this year – as well as being mentally exhausted or over trained.

What are the actual benefits of recovery?

– Reduces fatigue and inflammation.
– Removes (or flushes out) waste products in the tissues.
– Decreases Muscle Soreness, repairs tissue and reduces the effect of DOMS.
– Improves hormone levels including Growth Hormone which helps with tissue regeneration.
– Psychological Factors: Decreases Stress and Anxiety which can decrease resting heart rate, breathing frequency and body temperature.

If your coaches and S&C coaches are smart, your training volume will have decreased but what can YOU do in your OWN time to improve your recovery, mental state and overall PERFORMANCE on the sporting field. 

Often we are time poor due to busy lifestyles and mixed priorities so it is important to recognise:

1. Which recovery methods have scientific proof.
2. Which ones you are going to prioritise and do consistently.

So accumulate100 points per week based on the following methods that suit you best and incorporate these into your weekly routine.

Here are 7 tips of proven recovery methods:

1. Cold Water Immersion (25 points):

The human body responds to water immersion with changes in the heart which causes a reduction of swelling, peripheral resistance and blood flow, as well as alterations in the skin, core and muscle temperature (Wilcock et al., 2006). The changes in blood flow and temperature also have an effect on immune function, muscle soreness and perception of fatigue.

Option 1: 14 – 15 minutes flat out.

The optimal temperatures for this range between 10 – 15 degrees. This is best used within 24 hours of training/game day.

Option 2: Shunting/Contrast Therapy.

This method involves the vasoconstriction and vasodilation of blood vessels which essentially promotes the removal of metabolic by products which can improve via a pumping effect.

The ratio of hot-cold water immersion during contrast-water therapy should be 1:1. Research that has reported positive performance effects used seven rotations of 1 min hot (34 – 38 degrees) and 1 min cold (10 – 15).

2. Massage/Foam Rolling (25 points)

Massage techniques increase blood flow to the muscle which is one of the main mechanisms proposed to remove metabolic waste products and soreness. Active release techniques can improve flexibility and range of motion of areas which can prevent injury.

Ideally, you would get a sports massage 1 / week but if this isn’t feasible make it happen once per month.

Foam rolling works because it circulates oxygen blood to the fascia which means the better fascia you have the better you move.

Foam rolling works to:

1. diminish pain

2. increased flexibility

3. increased performance

4. increase ROM

– It doesn’t matter what type of person you are: athlete, general population, office worker, student.

– It doesn’t need to be complicated but you should do it everyday.
– 1 min is better than nothing: this will improve movement.

3. Mobility x 30 mins per day (25 points)

Mobility is defined as the ability to move freely and easily. The ability to put your body through different ranges of motion prevents injury, frees up the body from aches and pains as well as improving posture and structural issues. Often we are placed in poor positions at work and this is a great way to alleviate poor posture.

4. Improve Your Lifestyle:

– Get more sleep (7- 9 hours): (10 points)

While you sleep, amazing things are taking place in your body. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair.

– Have an alcohol free month (20 points)

Alcohol is often linked with poor sleep and has a negative effect on recovery from aerobic sports and also increases inflammation particularly when a soft tissue injury has been sustained. Set yourself a target to have a month of the grog and see how you feel!

5. Compression garments after a match and wear to bed (10 points)

Compression garments are thought to improve venous return through application of graduated compression to the limbs from proximal to distal (Bochmann et al., 2005). The external pressure created may reduce the intramuscular space available for swelling and promote stable alignment of muscle fibres, attenuating the inflammatory response and reducing muscle soreness (Kraemer et al., 2001).

Recently, a reduction in the perception of muscle soreness after wearing compression garments during sprinting and bounding exercise and for 24 h after exercise was reported (Duffield et al, 2010). While perceptions of soreness were also reduced.

After training and particularly game day I would recommend people to sleep in their compression garments. It can also be worn pre-game.

6. Nutrition (10 points)

After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercise day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein within 30 minutes and complex carbohydrate. Prepare your meals & eat consistently.

7. REST  (10 points)

Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. For recreational athletes, building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work, and fitness goals.

In the worst-case scenario, too few rest and recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome—a difficult condition to recover from.

There are limits to how much stress the body can tolerate before it breaks down and risks injury. Doing too much work too quickly will result in injury or muscle damage, but doing too little, too slowly will not result in any improvement. This is why personal trainers set up specific training programs that increase time and intensity at a planned rate and allow rest days throughout the program.


1. Listen to your body – if you think you may need a rest – you most likely do. We often we ignore the warning signs of injury because we don’t want others to think we are a wimp or you may not have performed as well as you would have liked so you think you don’t deserve a rest…..

2. Consideration should be given to the amount of time until the next training session or competition. You should plan and keep recored of your accumulated points.  When are you going to complete these methods?

Daniel Maitland
Strength & Conditioning Coach


Bochmann, R.P., W. Seibel, E. Haase, V. Hietschold, H. Rodel, and A. Deussen (2005). External compression increases forearm perfusion. J. Appl. Physiol. 99: 2337-2344.

Dawson B, Cow S, Modra S, Bishop D, Stewart G. Effects of immediate post-game recovery procedures on muscle soreness, power and flexiblity levels over the next 48 hours. J Sci Med Sport. 2005; 8(2): 210-21.

Halson, S.L. (2011). Does the time frame between exercise influence the effectiveness of hydrotherapy for recovery? Int. J. Sports Physiol. Perform. 6: 147-59.

Kraemer, W.J., J.A. Bush, R.B. Wickham, C.R. Denegar, A.L. Gomez, A.L. Gotshalk, N.D. Duncan, J.S. Volek, R.U. Newton, M. Putukian, and W.J. Sebastianelli (2001). Continuous compression as an effective therapeutic intervention in treating eccentric-exercise-induced muscle soreness. J. Sport Rehab.10: 11-23.

Wilcock, I.M., J.B. Cronin, and W.A. Hing (2006). Physiological response to water immersion: a method for sport recovery? Sports Med. 36: 747-765.