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How To Recover Like A Pro Athlete

By nick | In general health, running, triathlon | on April 13, 2017


Triathlon races, half and full marathons and big games of sport require intense physical and mental drain in order to achieve ‘PB’s and the win. You leave absolutely nothing in the tank to achieve your goals. You hit the finish line or the final whistle exhausted (hopefully happy) and broken. You couldn’t have tried harder.

It would be fair to say this can leave you feeling a bit dinged up. If anyone has watched me walk 2 days after a half marathon, I look like C3PO from Star Wars.

The first few days after this intense bout of exercise leave a subjective feeling of intense muscle soreness, decline in muscle power/ performance for a few days, inflammation, nervous system fatigue and exercise induced muscle damage. Affectionately known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

In some scenarios for example backing up for another game the week after, during a tennis tournament, backing up with a race the following weekend we need to get our body feeling good again quick smart. OR you just hate that DOMS feeling and want it to be as mild as possible.

Today we will talk about what professional athletes do to get back on the road to recovery. So you can take these ideas in preparation for your next event, game or brutal training session.


1. Ice baths

Ice baths or the fancy term of whole-body cryotherapy have been studied extensively. Professional football teams generally use those plastic bins from Bunnings with water and ice set at 15 degrees celsius for 10 minutes daily for the following 2 or 3 days. You can do this at home/ hotel room with a few bags of ice and water in the bath.

There’s a lot of research to prove it works. We just don’t understand quite how it works without theorising.

Cold baths have been shown to

  • Significantly alleviate inflammation after an intense bout of exercise
  • Increase the body’s immunity after 10 sessions
  • Improved rate of recovery of muscular power when compared to the control group which received no ice bath post strenuous exercise
  • Reduced DOMS symptoms (which mean less of the post exercise ‘tin man’ walk)


2. Pool recovery

Another effective strategy for reducing inflammation post race is pool walking. We recommend walking at nipple height for 20 minutes. This activates our hydrostatic pressure lymphatic pump meaning we clear swelling via our lymphatic system a lot quicker. Definitely do this the following day.

3. Sleep

Research suggests we need at least 15 hours of sleep in the 48 hours post an intense race/ game. If you are buzzing with adrenaline and can’t sleep I would strongly recommend taking a couple of midday naps for the next two days.


4. Fresh air

Destination races are awesome and a good way to include the family/ have a holiday. The problem with this is hotel room air conditioning can lead to sore throats and congestion.

Ideally windows should be open at night before and after a race/ game. If you are staying at a hotel ice baths create a vapour which is awesome at preventing sore throats and nasal congestion.

5. Compression tights

Compression tights or SKINS can be worn for 24 to 48 hours after a game / race to reduce inflammation. If you can sleep in them, do.   I personally can’t, so I put them on first thing in the morning.

6. If you are over 28

You should do a recovery ride / jog / walk of 15 to 30 minutes for the two days post race/game incredibly lightly.


NB The first two training sessions of the ST KILDA AFL TEAM after a game are 15 minutes and the following day 30 minutes. A lot of patients injure themselves the Monday or Tuesday after a race by doing speed work or their regular training.

If professional athletes with the best resources known to man are simply only training lightly for 15 mins followed by 30 mins for their first two training sessions then why are you training that hard?

Still injured despite your impressive recovery program? Call me to schedule an appointment 93650004

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