This week’s tip is about recovery. There is more and more information on recovering from a workout, all types of workouts, not just swimming. I turned to a couple of sources on the subject.
Ice baths have been all over the news recently, but do they work? We’ve seen them used by professional athletes in baseball, football, soccer, and many others. Now it seems quite trendy with all types of athletes, including weekend warriors. A report carried by Reuters says the behind-the-scenes study they looked at failed to have specific scientific data.
“…the new report does not answer how often an athlete should do the treatment, how long they should stay in the cold water or how long they should wait after they finish exercising.”
It did give some information that there might be promises from this method of recovery.
In the studies, people were asked to get into a cold-water bath that was about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit after exercising. They stayed in the bath from anywhere between five and 24 minutes. Overall, the baths lessened the soreness the athletes experienced over the next four days between 15 percent and 20 percent, according to Bleakley.
In fact, an article carried at About.com in their Sports Medicine section lists an Ice Bath as #8 in their list of 10 ways to recover after exercise. Their common sense list of 10 items is:
- Cool Down
- Replace Fluids
- Eat Properly
- Perform Active Recovery
- Have a Massage
- Take an Ice Bath
- Get Lots of Sleep
- Avoid Overtraining
Another website that had a common-sense approach to recovery is Fitsugar.com. Strange name, but all kinds of cool stuff on their website. Here are their 7 tips for easing muscle soreness after a workout. See the full article here to see details on each of the strategies.
- Foam Roller
- Active Rest
- Eat & Drink
Now for a truly scientific (and easy) approach, you might take a look at a company called Restwise. Here’s what their website says.
Restwise takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it into your hands…to quantify your body’s state of recovery.
So how does it work? You submit data to Restwise and it runs an algorithm that generates a score which tells you how prepared your body is for hard training. You might be asking, “What data do they collect and how do I get the data to them?” The data they are looking for involves: resting heart rate; body mass; sleep; oxygen saturation; hydration; appetite; muscle soreness; energy level; mood state; well being; and previous day’s performance.
With your subscription, they ship you a pulse oximeter (measures resting heart rate and oxygen saturation). You take that each morning and, using a smart phone app, or by logging into their website, you fill out a brief survey to supply the data they need to run their algorithm. Their website says it takes between 30 seconds and 1 minute to complete the daily survey.
No, I don’t work for Restwise, :-), but I do hope to try them out once I recover from my knee surgery and resume my training regimen. A friend of mine in CA (a nationally ranked swimmer) has signed up for a 6-month subscription to Restwise. I’ll check back in with her in a few weeks, see how things are going for her, and will come back and update this post.
4-13-12 Update on Ice Baths!!
Swimming Science is a website I have been subscribing to the last several months. One of the contributors to Swimming Science is G. John Mullen, the head strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club and founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration. He has written two blogs on ice baths. Here is a link to the latest blog. In this latest article, Dr. Mullen takes a look at a recent study on ice baths. The study concludes:
“There was some evidence that cold-water immersion reduces delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise compared with passive interventions involving rest or no intervention. There was insufficient evidence to conclude on other outcomes or for other comparisons. The majority of trials did not undertake active surveillance of pre-defined adverse events. High quality, well reported research in this area is required.”
Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready for a full on plunge into an ice bath, but I do know that when I have done some swims in very cold water, I come away feeling incredibly refreshed. That is, once I conquer the problem of the lungs seizing up when I immerse into that body of water. There is also that absolute shock to the sinuses and eye sockets. OMG!! And then, of course, somewhere in your cold water swim you get the “duck lips”, curled fingers and feet that you can no longer feel. All quite entertaining, especially when you stumble out of the water and try to talk to someone. They think you are drunk. Well, yeah, drunk on the cold, fresh water. They just don’t get it, do they? Go take a plunge why don’t you?!