Masters Athletes NOT Using Recovery Methods but Should!!

Introduction 

Using recovery strategies after training and racing means we bounce back quicker for the next training session. Young high performance athletes eat and drink straight after races and training, they get massages and use the methods science has shown work, such as compression garments or ice baths. My masters athlete research team at CQUniversity have just completed an online survey of Queensland veteran cyclists because we wanted to learn about their current training and recovery practices. The results relating to recovery practices shocked us. Very few vet cyclists use recovery strategies!

The Research

We surveyed 212 male and female veteran cyclists aged 35-82 years. To our surprise, 47% of both male and female veteran cyclists do not using any form of recovery strategy after racing or training.  The percentage of users did not differ between male and female.  In order of use, the following recovery methods were used by the veteran cyclists as a group:

  1. Stretching (40% of riders)
  2. Carbohydrate-protein mix (38%)
  3. Active recovery (35%)
  4. High glycemic index foods within 30 minutes of exercise (29%)
  5. Massage (25%)
  6. Compression garments (25%)
  7. Hot-cold showers (19%)
  8. Ice baths (7%)
  9. Pool running (6%)
  10. Spa baths (5%)

Other strategies were used including ‘beers’, hot baths and one response that we can all relate to at times –  3 double-shot lattes, a lay down on the couch and hoping not to cramp-up!!

The So What?

Our research strongly suggests that both male and female veteran cyclists are poor users of recovery strategies following both training and competition. Using these scientifically-proven methods of recovery is critical to enable us to bounce back between training days or between races on the same or subsequent days.

A few years ago, the chief recovery scientist at at the Australian Institute of Sport, Dr Shona Halson, undertook a research project examining the common recovery strategies used by the world’s leading athletes, coaches and sport scientists. She rated the majority of the strategies into categories based on the then research evidence and what these coaches, athletes and sport scientists practiced. The table below shows the ratings of the strategies that work.

Table 1: Ratings (High and Medium-High) of commonly used recovery strategies.

High

Medium-High
Contrast water treatment Active recovery
Compression garments Water therapy (e.g. spas)
Ice Massage
Stretching Pool work
Nutrition

Sleep

The bottom line is we need to use what science says work, not waste valuable family, work, leisure and training time on strategies that waste our time or even worse, no strategy at all!! Get to it fellow masters athletes – recover hard and recover smart!

For specific details (e.g. water temperatures, times to hold stretches or have hot/cold showers, what specific foods to eat etc etc) on how to recover using all the methods outlined above, see chapter 15 of my book The Masters Athlete. Now available in pdf format as  whole book with individual chapters such as the recovery chapter also available as a pdf.