Oct 12th 2012 at 15:53
BCAA is branched-chain amino acids （ie the building blocks of protein）. There are 3 kinds of this type of amino acid: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Taking branched-chain amino acids is promoted as a recovery tool because when muscle damage occurs during exercise, protein is broken down, and BCAAs are thought to enhance the formation of new protein.
However I would suggest that you would probably be wasting your money taking these supplements (this is based on scientific studies and also on various conversations with sports nutritionists). Basically if your protein intake is good, you won‘t get any benefit from these supplements - there is a limited amount of amino acids your body can use.
If you've got meat and dairy products in your diet, you're very likely to be getting enough protein. If you are vegan then that could be a different matter, however most meat/dairy eaters will be easily getting (and probably exceeding) the 1 - 2g of protein per kg body weight/day that is recommended.
And that is generally the case with all supplements - if you have a healthy balanced diet as you say you do, you're probably not going to gain anything from supplements. Getting your diet right is the starting point, then making sure your training and recovery techniques are optimised, and then looking at supplements would be the last thing to address in terms of improving performance。
If you want more info on supplements the Australian Institute of Sport has a great section, where they list the supplements they recommend to athletes and those they don't (BCAAs aren't actually included in any of their lists!) and there are also fact sheets on the different supplements. You can find this info here: http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/supplements/overview2
With regards other ways to enhance recovery, I'd go with Sarah on the compression kit suggestion. The other key one is just ensuring you get some food （carbs and a little protein） in you as soon after training as you can - sounds simple but is often the one that athletes don't manage unless they're organised and take snacks to training. This can make a really big difference, so it's worth getting right.
We've got a few pages about recovery tools on our site if you want to find out more than I have time to write on here! It includes info on compression, but also tools such as ice baths, contrast bathing etc: http://www.intelligent-triathlon-training.com/training-recovery.html
Lastly， with regards stretching， I don‘t know if you’ve come across the mobilitywod website （www。mobilitywod。com） - it has loads of fantastic exercises etc to loosen/mobilise tight joints and muscles - much more interesting than just sitting stretching！
Hope that helps。