Professional athletes will always push their bodies to the limit, but recovery time is unavoidable. Without adequate time given towards recovery, an athlete will become fatigued, experience muscle aches, and most importantly, see a reduction in their performance. Facing a long period of recovery is not uncommon for professional athletes, but that does not, in any way, alleviate the stress, fear, and desperation that an athlete feels when they are forced into recovery. The dire physiological impact of a sports recovery can often be worse than the physical injury itself, and many athletes resort to unconventional, unproven recovery techniques or return to training too early, leading to further injuries. Thankfully, with the vast developments in sports science, there are several clinically proven ways an athlete can recover quickly without adverse risks.
1. Pneumatic Compression
Pneumatic compression devices are sleeves that are usually placed over the legs. These sleeves fill with air every twenty to sixty seconds and then deflate, creating a temporary compression on the desired body part and a sensation very similar to a massage.
Clinical trials have demonstrated pneumatic compression's positive impact on blood flow, with studies as far back as the 90s, indicating that “the application of IPFCC greatly enhances popliteal artery blood flow.” Improving blood flow is a proven means to a faster sports recovery! One clinical trial published by Rachel Borne, Christophe Hausswirth, and François Bieuzen involving thirty-three high-intensity athletes demonstrated this considerable correlation between “an increase in blood flow and performance recovery between bouts of high-intensity exercise”.
One example of an effective pneumatic compression device that can be recommended to recovering athletes is the Normatec 3.0 Leg Recovery System. With its revolutionary and patented compression technology, the Normatec 3.0 Leg recovery system is favoured with professional athletes worldwide for fast and effective recovery.
2. Percussive Massage
A percussive massage is quite a similar concept to vibration therapy. Repetitive and rapid impulses of pressure are applied to specific pain points on the body. Unlike a traditional massage that involves a therapist’s hands, a percussive massage involves a massage gun with a fast pulsating head that can target soft tissue and reach much deeper than possible with a foam roller or human hands.
The strenuous workouts regularly undertaken by athletes make them very vulnerable to muscle fatigue, one of the most common causes for needing recovery time. Publications by scientific researchers have indicated that the use of percussive massage therapy can effectively reduce athletes' downtime by preventing delayed onset muscle soreness and reducing early pains faster than that of a traditional massage (The Journal of Clinical Diagonostic research), improving flexibility (J sports science medical) and aiding blood circulation through vibration (2014 clinical trial) without having an impact on muscle activation (see study).
A great percussive massage gun to recommend to athletes is the HyperVolt with Bluetooth. Not only has this product been proven to improve mobility when compared to traditional massage rollers(which can contribute to a faster recovery), but its built-in pressure sensor, mobile app integration, multiple heads and various settings enables users to have full control over the therapy reducing their risk of further injury.
3. Cold Water Immersion
Cold Water Immersion (CWI), more popularly known as ice-baths and plunge pools are a widely used recovery tool in which the body is immersed into cold water (≤15˚C) immediately after exercise to help enhance the recovery process.
Cold water immersion is incredibly beneficial for athletes in reducing muscle pain quickly, with a study finding that the carefully implemented CWI can effectively in reducing muscle sourness within the first 24 hours following strenuous exercise. In addition, the therapy is renowned for its ability to reduce inflammation and repair muscle and tissue (see study), both of which are key influencers in the recovery time of an athlete. The therapy has been found to be effective (see study) for a variety of injuries from thermal strain to secondary muscle damage when the therapy is used correctly, i.e the athlete follows the right cooling protocols.
The Avantopool Kinos makes cold water immersion easier for gyms, team locker rooms, workplaces or even at home, fitting up to three people when standing. In addition, constant water filtering and ozone cleaning ensures that the Avantopool is consistently clean. This fully automated recovery pool is a popular choice amongst science practitioners because it allows for a controlled cold immersion process reducing the risk of shock!
4. Cold Compression
Cold compression combines two common recovery techniques, applying static pressure and cryotherapy. Athletes can use cold compression for injury recovery in a variety of areas, whether it is their knee, back, shoulder, ankle, elbow, shin, or wrist.
Cold water immersion alone can be an effective aid in fast recovery, but compression also helps to reduce inflammation and swelling (both of which intensify pain and slow down healing). The combination of both has been found to be highly effective in recovery. In fact, in a clinical trial, patients who underwent cold compression therapy post-knee-surgery reported significantly less pain and swelling and had significantly greater functionality in their knee than those of the control group within the same amount of time!
Hyperice’s cold compression range of products are fantastic to recommend to athletes looking for a comfortable and quick recovery. The Hyperice range is unique because of its patented air-valve technology that allows the ice to mould perfectly around the injured body part, minimising discomfort!
Interested in our recovery systems? If you would like to discuss any of the products further with our team, or try them out for yourself contact us today.