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The Best Recovery Technique


Fitness on 25th, YWCA News

Recovery from exercise and sports training has become of more interest to athletes, coaches and trainers. Although there are many techniques that can be used to recover from training, the most popular seems to be foam rolling and post work-out snacks. However, the most important one is sleep.


Gordon Sleivert Ph.D., of the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific, indicates “A universal recovery strategy that is essential to both physiological adaptation and to the consolidation of skill development is sleep.” Sleep is important for recovery because we release human growth hormone during stage 3 and 4 which repairs muscle that has been damage during training. Cheri Mah, Ph.D. (Stanford University), indicates “sleep is an important factor in peak athlete performance.”

Sleep and Athletic Performance

Mah, et al. (2008) investigated the effects of increased sleep on college swimmers who increased their sleep to 10 hours per night for 6 – 7 weeks. After the sleep extension period, they swam a 15-m sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds quicker off the start blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds, and increased kick strokes by 5.0.

Mah, et al. (2011) did the same research with college basketball players. After they increased their sleep they were faster on a sprint by 0.70 seconds, improved free throw percentage by 9.0% and 3-point field goal percentage by 9.2%.


But getting a good quality and quantity of sleep is by far the ultimate recovery tool one can use to train, progress, and achieve goals.


Foam Rolling

Cheatham, et al. (2015) conducted a review of literature on the effectiveness of foam rolling on performance variables. The results indicated foam rolling lessens decrements in muscle performance caused by delayed onset muscle soreness.

Beardsley and Slarabot , J. (2015) conducted a review of literature on the acute and chronic clinical effects of foam rolling. The results found that acutely, foam rolling increases flexibility and reduces muscle soreness, and does not hinder performance. It improves arterial function and vascular endothelial function, and increases parasympathetic activity, which are useful in recovery.

Schroeder and Best (2015) conducted a review of literature on the use of foam rolling for pre-exercise, recovery, or maintenance. The results indicate foam rolling has a positive effect of range of motion and decreasing soreness/fatigue following exercise.

Ice Baths

Sanches-Urena, et al., (2017) compared two cold water immersion protocols, continuous or intermittent, on recovery in basketball players (10 male basketball players, 14 years old). The results indicate both cold water immersion protocols were effective in reducing muscle pain 24 and 48 hours after training compared with the control. There were significant differences in countermovement jump after 24 and 48 hours of cold water immersion compared to the control.

Crystal, et al., (2013) investigated the effect of ice baths on the inflammatory response to muscle-damaging exercise. Twenty subjects did a 40 minute run at a -10% grade. Ten of the subjects sat in a 5 degree ice bath for 20 minutes and the other ten served as controls with no bath. Knee extensor peak torque, soreness rating, and thigh circumference were obtained pre-run, and 1, 6, 24, 48, and 72 hours post-run. There were no differences between groups in knee extensor peak torque or soreness rating.

Post-Workout Snack

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (Kerksick, et al., 2008) summarized the research on post-workout meal and the timing of the meal/snack:

  • A post-workout snack is most important when the exercise is 60 – 90 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise.
  • Consumption of a carbohydrate snack (8 – 10 g CHO/kg/day) within 30 minutes stimulates muscle glycogen re-synthesis.
  • Carbohydrate snack and protein ratio of approximately 3:1 (CHO:PRO) stimulates glycogen re-synthesis to a greater extent.
  • Consumption (immediately after and up to 3 hours) of amino acids has been shown to stimulate greater increases in muscle protein synthesis.
  • During resistance training, post-workout consumption of carbohydrates and protein has been shown to stimulate improvements in strength and body composition when compared to placebo or carbohydrate-only snacks.
  • Pritchett and Pritchett (2012) indicate that chocolate milk is an affordable recovery beverage. Low-fat chocolate milk consists of a 4:1 (CHO:PRO) ratio and provides fluid and sodium.

Exercise is actually a form of stress. It causes a catabolic response in the muscles, creating small tears during weight training or high intensity training. After the damage caused by exercise, the body needs rest and recovery. The recovery process can be started immediately after exercise by drinking fluid and eating a snack to start replenishing water, carbohydrates, and protein. A healthy mixed diet further helps with recovery to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and replenish carbohydrates in the muscle cells. Foam rolling, before exercise, has been also found to reduce symptoms of delay onset muscle soreness and improve flexibility and range of motion.



YWCA Fitness on 25th is a coed facility providing a range of fitness experiences in a welcoming environment to achieve your individual health and fitness goals. Watch for the next YWCA wellness article on our website blog and social media channels.


by Nima Nazemi

Source: Mike Bracko, 2017, canfitpro Magazine (November/December 2017), pg. 32 – 33.