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Success with Stamina
Success with Stamina
A little blog about being a triathlon coach. Here you'll find a little diary about my activities as a coach, the performances of the people I work with and my thoughts and opinions on what makes athletes faster for longer.

Recovery... The most important part of training (pt:4)

AndyBby AndyBNov 19th 2010
The final part of this blog covers recovery techniques such as contrast bathing and ice baths.

Physical Recovery

Two elements of physical recovery are explored below: temperature contrast baths and pool work.

Ice baths entail rapid cooling and contrast baths require both rapid cooling and warming of the muscles. These techniques have been around for many years but have increased in popularity recently.

For hardy people, the practice of ice baths involves placing the exercised limbs in cold water reducing the blood flow and subsequently oxygen to that area, draining the muscles of built up waste products and slowing any reactions that may produce more. The recommended temperature of the water is around 3-10ºC and submersion should be for a period of up to 10 minutes. On removal from the cold water, a reflex response occurs whereby the blood vessels rapidly open bringing new blood and oxygen to the muscles that helps to flush out waste products and continue recovery. Limbs should be constantly moving in the cold water to prevent a barrier of warm water forming around them. Ice baths can also be used for pain-relieving properties.

Contrast bathing involves repeated immersion in warm and cold water and acts in a similar way to ice baths eventually increasing the blood flow to the muscles and speeding recovery. This can be done in a shower alternating between 30 to 60 seconds of cold water (10â€"16ºC) and 1 to 2 minutes of hot water (35-37ºC). It has been recognised that contrast bathing also stimulates the nervous system and increases arousal as the brain has to rapidly recognise both hot and cold information.

Pool recovery work involves a session of up to twenty minutes in water temperature around 28ºC. Gentle movement such as walking or jogging, side steps and stretching (both static and dynamic) will all help blood flow around the muscles, bringing in more oxygen and flushing out waste products.

When to employ this technique: Ice/contrast baths â€" within 30 minutes of training or competition. Pool recovery work â€" the day after a heavy training session or competition.


Without sufficient recovery, performance improvement is limited, of the four techniques reviewed here the first three are the most important. There is little or no point employing the physical recovery techniques if the basics are not done first. If recovery is the most important part of training, make sure you do it well and enjoy it!
 
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