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Recovery strategies in sport and exercise
Recovery strategies in sport and exercise

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3 The role of recovery strategies

So far we have seen that there are a range of recovery strategies available. In the next activity we will see some of these recovery strategies being used and consider the potential role of recovery strategies in the athlete’s training and competition schedule.

Activity 3 Recovery: the next frontier in sporting progress?

Timing: Allow 20 minutes

Watch the video clip below and answer the questions that follow. The clip was filmed in 2015 as part of the Channel 4 TV series Chasing Perfection, co-produced by The Open University, and features sport scientists and coaches from the UK and USA describing their use of recovery strategies with elite athletes.

  • What recovery strategies do we see being used in the clip?
  • What is the purpose of recovery strategies?
  • Are recovery strategies always beneficial?
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Video 2 Chasing perfection
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We see various recovery strategies used in the video. For example, in the section with Lindsey Anderson we see members of the Brazilian Paralympic Team using contrast baths and compression boots, and in the section with Tyler Jewell we see cryotherapy being used. Various other strategies are also mentioned.

According to those interviewed in the clip, the purpose of recovery strategies is to modulate the stress response to exercise, allowing individuals to recover more quickly and consequently train harder. Interestingly, Phillip Bell and Tyler Jewell both suggest the recovery strategies are not always beneficial and may actually inhibit the adaptation that occurs in response to hard training.

This demonstrates the need for specificity in the use of recovery strategies. For example, you may consider it inappropriate to use recovery strategies during a period of training when you want to maximise adaptation, however, you might consider it appropriate to use recovery strategies during competition (e.g. where you have several rounds or matches in a small time period) when you want the athlete to feel refreshed and recovered.

Hopefully you are beginning to recognise the need for evidence to support and underpin the use of recovery strategies both in general and at specific times. There is a wealth of research that has been undertaken to examine the impact of recovery strategies and we will begin to examine some of this in the next section.