|Recovery is an essential element of any sports training because it plays an essential role in performance. Training is not only an accumulation of workloads; it requires good fatigue management of the various strained tissues to favour what we call overcompensation.|
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Recovery is an essential element of any sports training because it plays an essential role in performance. Training is not only an accumulation of workloads; it requires good fatigue management of the various strained tissues to favour what we call overcompensation.
Two types of recovery can be distinguished: immediate recovery and secondary recovery.
It is the recovery between two efforts during the same training session, for example between two qualification routes or between two tries in natural surroundings, etc.
The aim is to favour an optimal return of the energy stocks at muscle level.
Therefore you need to act on bloodstream and nutritional intake.
Action on bloodstream:
- The active recovery consists in making moderate cardiovascular efforts, like slow running (or cycling) to maintain a moderate heart rate (between 80 and 120 pulse/min depending on everyone’s resting rhythm, which can vary between 50 and 70).
- Immersions of arms and forearms in cold water (about 15°C) 2 or 3 times during 5 minutes alternately with a few minutes of rest showed good results in a study carried out at the University of Lille 2 but seem to be quite difficult to execute except in rock climbing when a river runs at the bottom of the rock.
- Electrostimulation by active recovery programs does not show conclusive results according to the same study.
Action on nutritional intake:
- Rehydratation is an obvious fact. You must drink during the recovery time. Drink small amounts repeatedly rather than a great quantity at once. For example 2 or 3 small sips every 5 minutes.
- Quickly assimilated carbohydrate intake should be favoured. This intake may be contained in the drink taken for rehydration. You can buy energetic drinks, they are “isotonic”, if you follow the doses, and help the carbohydrates absorption without compromising performance. (Too many sweetened drinks may provoke too strong insulin secretion and cause a glycemic shock. Therefore avoid sodas and other energising drinks like Red Bull).
Secondary or late recovery
It is the recovery between two training sessions. During these phases, you want to try encouraging waste elimination and repairing micro-lesions, to restore a balance of the muscle tensions and to rebuild the body’s energy stocks.
- Hydration and nutrition: between two training sessions, you should drink 1,5 or 2 litres of water per day and eat in a balanced and varied manner. Fruits, vegetables, starchy food.
- Stretching exercises: the goal is to stop possible contractures and restore a balance of the tensions. This also favours a return to better tissue vascularization. It should be done with distance to the training sessions according to the principles exposed on the page “Stretching exercises”.
- Massage: not everybody has a physiotherapist at his or her disposal between each training session; however you may allow yourself professional help at certain moments of the season. A massage works as much on your bloodstream as on muscular relaxation.
- Sauna: by increasing heart rate, vasodilation and sweating but also for the general relaxation it generates, sauna is a non-neglectable way of recovery. Be aware of contraindications: circulatory and/or respiratory disorders (if in any doubt, ask your doctor).
- Relaxation: learn to let go, to know your body in another way than during contraction and effort, to control your breath but also to let it go… so many elements that enable the body to recover. Yoga, Qi Gong, Eutony, Relaxation therapy…
- Sleep: the accumulation of fatigue with a sleeping debt impairs performance and favours all the more injuries. Refreshing sleep and possible short naps – the most favourable hours for sleep are between 11 pm and 7 am and between noon and 3 pm. These are the keys for good recovery.
- Heyman E, DE Geus B, Mertens I, Meeusen R. : Effects of four recovery methods on repeated maximal rock climbing performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Jun;41(6):1303-10.
- GUYON L., BROUSSOULOUX O. : Escalade et performance, Ed. Amphora sports, Paris, 2004.
- ROUSSEAU V., CASCUA S. : Alimentation pour le sportif, de la santé à la performance, Ed. Amphora sports, 2005.