Recovery in Sport: Brendan Brazer, Alkalising, ice baths coming

A fortnight ago I was looking forward to playing football after alkalising my body during the week.

It maybe placebo, but I felt less tension in my body drinking alkalised water (pH drops and Greens powder) during the week. The tension in my Achilles was less. My thigh muscles felt lighter with less tiredness during the day.

We did fitness training and had a 60 min squad game. I had more desire to run faster with the new feeling in my legs. I could play faster in the game and recover quicker. I did tire after 45minutes, but I put that down to fitness.

I continued my nutrition regime of Nuun electrolyte drink, SIS recovery shake, and OTE carbohydrate bar.

I also wore my 2XU MCS compression leggings during training and 2XU recovery leggings for 24 hours after training.

Post football training I went directly to tennis and played for 1 hour. I did feel slight fatigue during the tennis. I may need to increase my carbohydrates intake between football and tennis, and during tennis. I plan to have a bite of carbohydrate bar every 20 minutes, after 60 mins of training. I also must continue to drink electrolyte drink during tennis.

I realise my fitness levels are not match level yet. This may be the main reason for my fatigue levels during tennis. Listening to my body, I think there was an element of both fitness and nutrition. I will continue to play with my nutrition to optimise my performance.

On element of recovery I have yet to implement is the Ice Bath. I will read into this more and test Ice Baths in the near future.

In my gym training I am not doing leg strengthening. I don’t want to slow my running speed down with heavy big muscles (very different to cycle training). Once I feel my leg speed is better, I will introduce a measured amount of leg strength in my gym training.

I have been reading a book called Thrive by Brendan Brazier. He is an Ironman athlete who alkalises his body and is a Vegan. He talks about Cortisol and what the foods we eat can do to our bodies. His performance vastly improved by alkalising his body. He has great shakes, energy bars and meals in his book. He has also produced recipe books.

I plan to follow the principles of Thrive and assess what I am eating after sport and between sporting events. Eating the best foods most of the time will add to my goal of consistently performing at my best.

This weekend I was away and could not attend normal football training. Instead, I did some fitness training with another player (manager) in the team. We decided to do 15 minutes of interval training.

I wore my 2XU MCS compression leggings and drank alkalised water with a Nuun (electrolyte) tablet in it. I do not recommend mixing a Nuun tablet in with Alkalised water. It tasted terrible. I would separate the two drinks in the future.

This was the first time I had performed 10meter sprints interspersed with jogging. The more I did, the better my legs felt. I could lift my knees and quickly plant them down for quick acceleration. I felt I could go faster and my legs felt light. Sprinting does not replicate how a player moves in football training. I want to assess football drills and fitness, and change my interval training to make them more sport specific. I feel some research on the web is needed.

The Manager has asked me to run the fitness element of training. I look forward to sharing some new football specific fitness drills and some of the information on nutrition. If the whole team benefits from better nutrition, the entire teams performance will improve.


Recovery in Sport: Ice Baths and the media

As I look more into recovery I am more aware of what newspapers, magazines and the web are showing in elite sport. I have read about ice baths being used by Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Professional Football Teams and Professional Cycling teams. I have not read the research thoroughly yet, but empirically, there appears to be evidence ice baths  help recovery with specific athletes. In a previous blog I noted that a Professional Cycling Team in the Tour De France used ice baths at a temperature of 10-12 degrees celsius.

Today I have noted ice baths mentioned twice more in the media. The first was Andy Murray talking about age and recovery after his first round match in the US Open this year….

“It was tough and I had to do a lot of running in very humid conditions,” said Murray. “I’m getting old now – 28 years old. I need to get in the ice bath and cool off a bit.”

In the Daily Mail there was an article about a new football team owned by the Crown Prince of Brunei. He has employed Steve Kean, former manager of Blackburn Football Club. The first two changes he has made at the club are the introduction of ice baths and protein supplements (see attached image).IMG_1894

The question I ask is..why do ice baths continue to appear in the press, as a recovery strategy for elite athletes across a range of sports. It is an assumption, that not all athletes like ice baths, but for those that do like it, it forms an important component of their recovery strategy.

I will be looking more into ice baths, what they do, how to do it and I will test it on myself. Stay tuned for more blogs on Ice Baths

Recovery in Sport: Second 90 mins of football, better hydration, mid week training, and alkalising

Last week I played my second 90 minutes of football. I decided to drink more electrolyte during the match. I finished off my entire bottle of electrolyte at half time. Compared the the previous week, I did not cramp in my calves at the end of the match, and I did not feel so thirsty. After the match I drank my recovery (SIS) shake and ate a recovery (OTE) bar. I ate lunch within 1 hour of finishing the match. I felt good after the match and did not get the tiredness I felt in my body after the first 90 minute match of football I played.

I wore  my 2XU recovery leggings in the evening after the match. I wore them all night and through the following day. My legs felt good when I was wearing them, and I did not have pain, or as much tightness when I took them off. This week I did a mid week interval training session. I did not use my recovery leggings after the session, and my legs have felt sore and tight for the last two days. My hamstrings feel particularly tight. I must wear my leggings when I train midweek.

I will be testing my MCS performance leggings in training tomorrow. It could be raining so it will be interesting to see how they perform.

I have realised I must use my electrolye drink and recovery shake after my mid week interval training sessions. This may reduce my post session pain and tightness, and prevent injury, in the same way it does for match day. I will be training tomorrow with tightness in my hamstrings and I hope to avoid an injury.

This week I have started alkalising my body. I bought an alkalising pack from Energise for Life. The pack included Greens, Alkalsing Salts, Udos oil and PH drops. I have used the Greens, PH drops and Udos oil for the past three days. I will start the salts tomorrow. I must admit, my body feels less stiffness in my legs and I can sprint with less tiredness. My Achilles, Injured 4  weeks ago, has less twinge to it. I know I will get fitter in the following weeks but there is a difference in how my body feels. I will explain more as the weeks go by.

I am now looking at alkaline breakfasts. In the past, eating well has required lots of preparation and forward thinking. I want to find simple breakfasts I can prepare easily and I like to eat. I have found a few on the Energise for life website and will test them in the following weeks.

I am interested to see if my body is alkalised (tested with PH test strips), I have good hydration and recovery plan, and I use compression clothing what happens to my performance. At the same time, I will be working on fitness, flexibility, strength, speed, and eating post workout and dinners. Of course there are the ice baths to trial.

More to come in the following weeks.

Recovery in Sport: Testing 2XU compression leggings

On the weekend, I tested the 2XU recovery leggings after my first 90 minutes of football. My legs were painful around the knees and lateral quadriceps, on my left side more than my right, after the match. I ate, showered and then put on the compression leggings.

Instantly my legs felt more comfortable. I am not sure why? I can imagine the compression of the leggings support the soft tissues and, therefore, could reduce tension on nociceptors (pain nerve endings) in the myofacial system. The effect of compression on swelling would most likely have effects after a period of time wearing the leggings. The sizing chart on the 2XU website, achieved the perfect fit for my body.

I wore the leggings all day and that night. The next day (lunchtime) I took them off. The legs remained less painful. Even though there was some heaviness still in the legs, I felt they were beneficial to wear.

I compare the feeling I have in my legs the next day, when I play football, and I would normally wake up sore, stiff and very heavy in the legs. I will now test if the morning after effect of the leggings is consistent.

Three days after playing football I did interval training in the gym. The legs were tired and heavy, but I see this as a normal adaption to training. Despite the Physiological effects of the leggings, I know I felt significantly more comfortable with them on after playing football.

I am about to test the 2XU MCS performance leggings in training. If they are as comfortable as the recovery leggings I will be very excited….

I decided to use the 2XU MCS performance leggings in my interval training session in the gym this week.

The leggings had spiral shaped patterns in the material in approximate alignment with muscle groups of the legs. They did feel tighter to wear compared to the recovery leggings. I instantly liked wearing them for comfort.

I jogged to the gym and my legs felt light and ready for action. I did a 10minute run for a warm up and then a circuit of different anaerobic movements. The leggings did not impede my motion and were cool to wear.

I did not feel any pain in my legs during the workout. This was 3 days after my football match. I took the leggings off after the interval training session. In the morning my legs felt slightly heavy from the workout. I wonder what would have happened had I worn the recovery leggings (I will do this next time).

I will test the leggings in a football training session. I want to know if the muscle pain I got in my first 90 minute match will be less or abolished.

Recovery in Sport: From Compression clothing to ice baths

Recovery is the 4th discipline in Triathlon, and it is the secret to building muscle mass. Knowledge about Recovery is growing in amateur sport. There is readily available information in Endurance Sport magazines and websites.

I am changing my Sport participation from Ironman training to playing Football, Tennis and Cycling all in a weekend. These sports are explosive, and power based, rather than pure endurance training.

I know my body will go through a period of readjustment to these sports. Avoiding injury will be important. My goal is to use my knowledge and experience of recovery to enable me to compete in three sports over one weekend, on a regular basis. I want to have enough energy to play each sport, but also get stronger and prevent injury.

Recovery is a key to this plan. I want to recover faster, be stronger and perform at my best. I want to avoid cramp and muscle injuries.

I have divided Recovery in areas; 1. Compression clothing 2. Rehydration 3. Recovery nutrition 4. Ice baths 5. Cool Down

  1. Compression Clothing

My interest in Recovery has started with Compression clothing. I used these in Ironman training and found them very beneficial. I wore them overnight and when I woke up in the morning my legs felt “fresher” and less painful.

I did an online search of compression clothing. There is a large range of brands to consider. I decided to look at the original compression garment Skins and, a brand I used in Ironman, 2XU. Website reviews of compression garments showed these two brands rated highly.


Best Compression Gear Review – Triathlon Plus |
Best Compression Gear Review – Triathlon Plus | TriRadar…

We test some of the best compression gear on the market in our best compression gear review – 25/10/2012

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Product Review: 2XU Compression Gear
Product Review: 2XU Compression Gear

The world of compression gear has become filled with numerous brands, but 2XU stands out as a quality brand that actually makes a difference in performance and re…

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2XU Compression Tights review |

2XU Compression Tights review | – the website for pedal powered people. Road cycling news, Bike reviews, Commuting, Leisure riding, Sportives and more

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2XU Elite compression tights review – BikeRadar
2XU Elite compression tights review – BikeRadar

There’s a common edict in cycling: don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lie down, and if you lie down put your legs up

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The 2XU brand of compression leggings had been researched by the Australian Institute of Sport.

I decided to test 2XU. 2XU had several models to choose from; performance (MCS), recovery and hybrid models. Each model differed by the compression quality of the material each used. The performance leggings were designed to reduce muscle vibration and damage.

I decided to test the performance and recovery leggings.

  1. Rehydration

The body requires electrolytes for normal body function. Read below for facts on recovery by Australian Institute of Sport on Nutrition

The key electrolyte is Sodium

Other important electrolytes are Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. When we sweat we lose these electrolytes in our body. Sweat cools our body down. When we lose Sodium we retain less water and lose our feeling of thirst. Hence, dehydration is a serious problem. Drinking water is not enough.

When we sweat we lose these electrolytes in our body. Sweat cools our body down. When we lose Sodium we retain less water and lose our feeling of thirst. Hence, dehydration is a serious problem. Drinking water is not enough.

It appears that some electrolyte products do not contain enough Sodium. Coconut water is currently trending as a natural electrolyte replacement. However, It appears commercially sold coconut water is too low in Sodium to be used as an electrolyte replacement drink.

I searched online for the best electrolyte replacement drink for my needs. I came across Nuun (pronounced Noon). Nuun has excellent concentrations of Sodium, K, Mg, and Ca. It also contained Sodium Bicarbonate. Sodium Bicarbonate can, apparently, neutralise some of the effects of Lactic acid. It is low calorie and contains only electrolytes (allowing me to choose my own source of carbohydrate). There are no artificial additives and has natural flavouring.

Another electrolyte product I discovered in my local bike shop (Wild Bikes) was OTE (original owners of SIS nutritional products). OTE also has no artificial flavours and is low in calories, but does not have the Sodium Bicarbonate content, when compared to Nuun.

  1. Recovery Nutrition

Interms of recovery drink I have used SIS recovery drink in the past. Current versions have 50% more protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes. I compared this product to Sun Warrior protein powder (Vegan). Sun Warrior has significant amounts of protein and very small amounts of carbohydrates. I can see this as a great source of protein I could use after gym training, but not a recovery drink.

My nutritional needs in recovery are 75-105g carbohydrate 15-25g protein

I can see SIS repid recovery drink does not have enough protein. I will therefore look to supplement this drink with a carbohydrate bar/ shot and eat wholefoods at a later date.

4. Ice Baths

There seems to be a debate about the benefits of ice baths. I have seen ice baths used at Wimbledon, professional football and in the Tour De France

There was an interesting article in cyclenews – “cold baths key to Etixx-QuickStep’s Tour de France success”

The bath temperature used by cyclists was 10-12 degrees. They could sit comfortably in them and even fell asleep. Other benefits listed included pain relief, improved lymphatic drainage and cooling of the body.

Andy Murray (professional tennis player) described his routine after his Wimbledon matches. He rehydrated, ate whole foods, got a massage and then had an ice bath.

  1. Cool down

The other elements of recovery would be active recovery (cooling down with exercise), and stretching. I do light general stretches post match and do more serious stretching 2-3 days after performance. Ballistic stretches before a match is best. I cool down with gradual reduction in activity in the sport I am playing. I could do a light run or cycle.