Recovery Part 1/2

Recovery techniques are used to reduce fatigue for improved subsequent performance, reduced muscle soreness and prevent injuries.


Sleep is the most effective way of recovering after a bout of exercise, if you are only able to do one recovery method, this would be the best. The average person sleeps between 6 and 8 hours per night. Studies have shown that 6 weeks of sleeping for 10 hours per night will significantly improve sports performance (e.g. sprint times, agility testing, vigour, free throw accuracy etc). Roger Federer credited his improved form at the 2015 US open to increasing his sleep to 10hrs per day.

It is recommended we as adults sleep for 8 hours per night. Having good sleep hygiene (having the same bed time, avoiding phones/ipads in bed, having a dark room and temperature between 19°-21°C) is conducive to improving and maintaining good sleep patterns.

Active recovery

Active recovery has been shown to:

  • Increase blood flow to the exercised area and aid in clearance of lactate and other metabolic waste products better than passive recovery (rest).
  • Active recovery may also help improve performance for the next exercise session (<72hrs).

The mode of active recovery is dependent on the exercise/sport performed. It is a low intensity exercise lasting for 1-10 minutes and examples include flush down swims after a swimming race or a light jog after a game of football.


Stretching is one of the most common recovery methods used. Stretching helps to return muscles to a resting length after a bout of exercise and reduce perceived soreness. Its benefits are limited to this and will not have any benefit towards a faster overall recovery from fatigue.

Water Immersion

Cold water immersion (Ice baths) works by improving blood flow away from the legs, reducing inflammation, swelling and muscle soreness.  3-15 minutes at 12°-15°C will have the best benefits.

Contrast baths (Hot/Cold) has been shown to be effective too and you always want to finish in the cold bath.

Hot water (>36°C) increases blood flow and can lead to higher levels of inflammation and muscle soreness. So no spa baths after exercising!

Going for an ocean swim is a great way to recover as you are doing active recovery and cold water immersion in one hit.

If you would like further information on the best recovery methods for your chosen sport, speak with your physiotherapist. Call 9361 3777 to book an appointment.