Recovery Strategies to improve Your Sports Performance (Part 4- Advance Strategies)
Are you searching for other options on Sports Recovery apart from Active Recovery and Massages mentioned in our previous series?
In this series, we will continue to share on other types of Advance Recovery Strategies that include Compression Garments, Hot/Cold Immersion Bath and Floatation Tank.
It is common nowadays to see more and more athletes training in tight fitting, eye catching wear. They come in many forms i.e. long or short sleeves, knee length or full leg length and varied designs. Compression garments is quickly gaining popularity for its purported benefits in aiding sports recovery and a fashion statement as well. There have been a number of recent researches that demonstrated the effectiveness of compression garments in enhancing sports recovery after strenuous training by facilitating the removal of lactic acid and reducing the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the days after a heavy workout. Research also highlighted several other benefits:
- Improving muscular strength and power (especially lower limbs)
- Improved proprioception
- Improving blood circulation to peripheral limbs
- Enhancing warm up
With such reported benefits and a space tech looking suit that is impressive to behold, it makes one difficult to resist laying hands on one.
Hot/Cold Immersion Bath (Contrast Bath)
The Romans might have been the first people since 60AD, to understand and make use of the healing properties of alternating hot and cold water immersion therapy. Archaeologists found cold bath situated within the roman temple which was built around a hot spring spa. Indeed, sports scientists in our era have found that by immersing your whole body or part of it (especially the legs) repeatedly in cold and hot baths, athletes recover faster from their physical and psychological fatigue. By alternating the immersion between hot water (38-40 deg Celsius) and cold water (10-15 deg Celsius), repeated about three to four times, each immersion lasting about two to three minutes, the blood vessels constrict and expand repeatedly, bringing about the following effects:
Hot Phase: blood vessels of the peripheral muscles expand, allowing in more oxygen rich blood from the heart to nourish the muscles.
Cold phase: blood vessels of the peripheral muscles constrict, draining away the lactic acid, and improve blood flow back to the heart at the same time.
The repetitive constriction and expansion of blood vessels thus act like a pump, improving blood flow around the body, thus facilitating the removal of waste material from the muscles and delivery of nutrients to them as well.
Imagine yourself floating totally naked on water in a lightless, soundproof coffin like structure. It sounds like a scene right out of a horror movie. Yet, this is actually what sports psychologists get top athletes to do to help them relax and improve their focus! The floatation tank is such an equipment containing water which has salt added to increase its density, thus allowing the athlete to float unaided. It was developed in 1954 by John C. Lily, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist during his experiments on sensory deprivation. Since then, sports psychologists have adapted its use as it had been found to have the following benefits to athletes:
- Reduction of pain and stress
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improvement of sports performance through visualization and self hypnosis
It is used locally by our sports psychologists at Singapore Sports Institute to help our elite athletes recover from psychological fatigue and improve performance.
This concludes our series on strategies on sports recovery. We hope it had been useful for you, whether you are a recreational athlete or athlete aspiring to maximize your potential. You may not have access to all the strategies discussed, but if you are able to adhere closely to the strategies listed in the fundamental strategies and advanced strategies I, you will still be way ahead of others in optimizing your recovery, reducing injury and thus improving your sports performance!
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