Masters Athletes Aren’t Recovering Smart


Using recovery strategies after training and racing means we bounce back quicker for the next training session or race. Most elite younger athletes eat and drink the right stuff straight after races or training, they get massages and use the methods science has shown work, such as compression garments or ice baths. As part of a series of PhD projects my research team are undertaking at CQUniversity, we’ve just completed an online survey examining the use of recovery practices in Queensland veteran cyclists. The results were recently presented at the 2013 American College of Sports Medicine Conference in the USA where one of my postgrads won the International Student Scholar Award – a very proud supervisor I was! The results shocked us! Very few vet cyclists use recovery strategies!

The Research and Results

Using an online survey and the support of Cycling Queensland, we got responses from 212 veteran cyclists over the age of 35 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 genders.  In order of use, the following recovery methods were used by the vets 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’ 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.  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.

Source: Reaburn, P. and others (2013). Poor Use Of Post-exercise Recovery Strategies In Veteran Cyclists: An Australian Study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45(5): S71.