Recovery strategies

 How to maximise performance and help prevent injuries.


The period immediately following exercise is critical for optimising rehydration, refuelling and repair of tissue damage.

  1. Re-fuel: fluid volume must exceed the volume lost in exercise (weigh athletes pre and post exercise to determine this). Include sodium and potassium for re-hydration, carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen stores, protein to halt muscle damage and initiate tissue repair (sports drinks, milk). Follow with solid food comprising carbs and protein.
  2. Active recovery: low intensity exercise 10-15mins to remove lactic acid.
  3. Massage: light massage only, may combine with stretching and re-alignment.
  4. Ice bath: 15*C for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Compression garments: wear for 12hrs following match play.
  6. Massage: either later in the evening or the next morning depending on competition schedule. Deeper to ensure tight areas addressed and tissue pliability restored.
  7.  Sleep.
  8. Pre-competition massage: very light and focuses on getting the muscles ready with short, chopping actions and rapid strokes. Helps with mental and physical prep.


This seems to be the main consensus of approach to post exercise recovery. The above would be the ideal order of occurrence with 3 and 5 being less essential. Obviously recovery strategies will vary between athletes and depending on the logistics of competition and venues.



International Rugby Board. Ironman UK. Australian Sports Commission: Volleyball.

Mike Searle, Training Director.











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