An increase in research investigating recovery strategies has occurred alongside the increase in usage of recovery by elite athletes. Because there is inconsistent evidence regarding the benefits of recovery on performance, it is necessary to examine research design to identify possible strategies that enhance performance in different athlete settings. The purpose of this review is to examine available recovery literature specifically related to the time frame between performance assessments to identify considerations for both research design and practical use of recovery techniques.
Kenneth J. Killian and Dale A. Ulrich
Jessica M. Stephens, Ken Sharpe, Christopher Gore, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Nathan Versey, Jeremiah Peiffer, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, David Crampton, Alan Dunne, Christopher D. Askew, and Shona L. Halson
water immersion on repeat cycling performance and thermoregulation in the heat . J Sports Sci . 2008 ; 26 ( 5 ): 431 – 440 . PubMed ID: 18274940 doi:10.1080/02640410701567425 18274940 10.1080/02640410701567425 8. Vaile J , Halson S , Gill N , Dawson B . Effect of hydrotherapy on recovery
Jessica M. Stephens, Shona L. Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Dale W. Chapman, and Christopher D. Askew
hydrotherapy help or hinder adaptation to training in competitive cyclists? Med Sci Sports Exerc . 2014 ; 46 ( 8 ): 1631 – 1639 . PubMed doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000268 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000268 24504431 25. Ramanathan NL . A new weighting system for mean surface temperature of the human body . J
Susan Y. Kwiecien, Malachy P. McHugh, Stuart Goodall, Kirsty M. Hicks, Angus M. Hunter, and Glyn Howatson
. PubMed ID: 27168768 doi:10.3892/etm.2016.3104 10.3892/etm.2016.3104 27168768 25. Stephens JM , Halson SL , Miller J , Slater GJ , Askew CD . Influence of body composition on physiological responses to post-exercise hydrotherapy . J Sports Sci . 2018 ; 36 : 1044 – 1053 . PubMed ID
Layci J. Harrison, Kala L. Young, Sandra L. Stevens, and Jennifer L. Caputo
A 19-year-old collegiate softball player collided with a fence while trying to catch a fly ball, resulting in a greenstick fibular fracture. Underwater treadmill training (UTT) was used as a modality to supplement traditional physical therapy (TPT). Active range of motion (AROM) in all directions for the knee, hip, and ankle, girth of the thigh and lower leg, static balance, and 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) distance were assessed pre- and postintervention. The addition of UTT to TPT led to postintervention increases in AROM, static balance, and limb girth, with no additional discomfort to the participant.
Christos K. Argus, James R. Broatch, Aaron C. Petersen, Remco Polman, David J. Bishop, and Shona Halson
An athlete’s ability to recover quickly is important when there is limited time between training and competition. As such, recovery strategies are commonly used to expedite the recovery process.
To determine the effectiveness of both cold-water immersion (CWI) and contrast water therapy (CWT) compared with control on short-term recovery (<4 h) after a single full-body resistance-training session.
Thirteen men (age 26 ± 5 y, weight 79 ± 7 kg, height 177 ± 5 cm) were assessed for perceptual (fatigue and soreness) and performance measures (maximal voluntary isometric contraction [MVC] of the knee extensors, weighted and unweighted countermovement jumps) before and immediately after the training session. Subjects then completed 1 of three 14-min recovery strategies (CWI, CWT, or passive sitting [CON]), with the perceptual and performance measures reassessed immediately, 2 h, and 4 h postrecovery.
Peak torque during MVC and jump performance were significantly decreased (P < .05) after the resistance-training session and remained depressed for at least 4 h postrecovery in all conditions. Neither CWI nor CWT had any effect on perceptual or performance measures over the 4-h recovery period.
CWI and CWT did not improve short-term (<4-h) recovery after a conventional resistance-training session.
Hani Al Haddad, Jonathan Parouty, and Martin Buchheit
We investigated the effect of daily cold water immersion (CWI), during a typical training week, on parasympathetic activity and subjective ratings of well-being.
Over two different weeks, eight highly trained swimmers (4 men; 19.6 ± 3.2 y) performed their usual training load (5 d/wk, approx. 21 h/wk). Last training session of each training day was immediately followed by 5 min of seated recovery, in randomized order, with CWI (15°C) or without (CON). Each morning before the first training session (6:30 AM) during the two experimental weeks, subjective ratings of well-being (eg, quality of sleep) were assessed and the R-R intervals were recorded for 5 min in supine position. A vagal-related index (ie, natural logarithm of the square root of the mean of the sum of the squares of differences between adjacent normal R-R intervals; Ln rMSSD) was calculated from the last 3-min segment.
Compared with CON, CWI effect on Ln rMSSD was rated as possibly beneficial on day 2 [7.0% (–3; 19)], likely beneficial on day 3 [20.0% (1.5; 43.5)], very likely beneficial on day 4 [30.4% (12.2; 51.6)] and likely beneficial on day 5 [24.1% (–0.4; 54.8)]. Cold water immersion was associated with a likely greater quality of sleep on day 2 [30.0% (2.7; 64.6)], very likely on day 3 [31.0% (5.0; 63.1)] and likely on day 4 [38.6% (11.4; 72.4)] when compared with CON.
Five minutes of CWI following training can reduce the usual exercise-induced decrease in parasympathetic activity and is associated with improved rating of perceived sleep quality.
Ian M. Wilcock, John B. Cronin, and Wayne A. Hing
To assess the effect that post exercise immersion in water has on subsequent exercise performance.
A literary search and review of water-immersion and performance studies was conducted.
Seven articles were examined. In 2, significant benefits to performance were observed. Those 2 articles revealed a small to large effect on jump performance and isometric strength.
Practical Application and Conclusions:
It is possible that water immersion might improve recovery from plyometric or muscle-damaging exercise. Such a statement needs to be verified, however, because of the scarcity of research on water immersion as a recovery strategy.
Jessica M. Stephens, Shona Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, and Christopher D. Askew
The use of cold-water immersion (CWI) for postexercise recovery has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, but there is a dearth of strong scientific evidence to support the optimization of protocols for performance benefits. While the increase in practice and popularity of CWI has led to multiple studies and reviews in the area of water immersion, the research has predominantly focused on performance outcomes associated with postexercise CWI. Studies to date have generally shown positive results with enhanced recovery of performance. However, there are a small number of studies that have shown CWI to have either no effect or a detrimental effect on the recovery of performance. The rationale for such contradictory responses has received little attention but may be related to nuances associated with individuals that may need to be accounted for in optimizing prescription of protocols. To recommend optimal protocols to enhance athletic recovery, research must provide a greater understanding of the physiology underpinning performance change and the factors that may contribute to the varied responses currently observed. This review focuses specifically on why some of the current literature may show variability and disparity in the effectiveness of CWI for recovery of athletic performance by examining the body temperature and cardiovascular responses underpinning CWI and how they are related to performance benefits. This review also examines how individual characteristics (such as physique traits), differences in water-immersion protocol (depth, duration, temperature), and exercise type (endurance vs maximal) interact with these mechanisms.