Recovery in Sport: First cold bath, increasing carbohydrates

This week was a different intensity of sport. I ran a 30 min fitness session, which was followed by drills and then 6 aside game. I went straight to tennis and had easy set of doubles and played single games for about 30minutes.

I ate two additional OTE carbohydrate bars immediately after football and just before tennis. I did not feel so hungry or tired. The football training was not as taxing this week, so this may have made a difference.

I drank Electrolyte during tennis and wore compression garments throughout all sport.

This week I read more on ice baths. The suggested time in the bath is 10 mins at 10-15 degrees. It has been raised that a cold bath may be just as effective.

This week I had a 10 min cold bath after sport. It was freezing getting in but after 3minutes my body adapted to the temperature and it felt nice. I could imagine putting ice in to keep it a little colder. My feet got slightly tingly towards the end of the bath. I actually over stayed in the bath by another 4-5 minutes. When I got out of the bath my legs felt cold, light and semi refreshed. I put my 2XU recovery leggings on until 11am the following morning. My legs felt slightly tired and tight because I played more tennis than normal. But, they did not feel heavy and cumbersome.

It was a good test doing the cold bath. I will try ice in the bath next time. I need to buy a thermometer to test the water temperature.

Our first game of the season is next weekend. In the team there are two injuries. A player strained his calf during training and another has low back pain after 45 minutes of football. I am treating them both and deciding how best to advise them on recovery. Ice baths maybe a good start after the match.

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 | TriRadar.com

http://www.triradar.com/gear/best-compression-gear-review/
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

http://breakingmuscle.com/clothing-shoes/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 | road.cc

2XU Compression Tights review | road.cc

road.cc – 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

http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/clothing/tights-longs-and-leggings/product/review-elite-elite-compression-tights-10-35682/
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.

http://www.2xu.co.uk/compression/

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

http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/competition_and_training/recovery_nutrition

The key electrolyte is Sodium

http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/594173/CORP_33413_SSF_Electrolyte_FS.PDF

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.

http://healthandwellness.kaplan.edu/articles/nutrition/Coconut%20water%20-%20Is%20it%20really%20natures%20sport%20drink.html

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.

https://nuun.com/blog/electrolytes-hydration

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.

http://www.scienceinsport.com/sis-rego-range/sis-rego-rapid-recovery/sis-rego-recovery-protein-1-6kg/#prod-tab-2

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.

Maximising performance in the off season

In professional sport the ‘off season’ offers an athlete the opportunity to rest, recover and mentally prepare for the following season. In the off season an athlete will do strength training and fitness training so that they are in peak condition when the new season starts. In tennis the fitness and strengthening will carry them through the season, and allows them to focus more on match play and technique.

In the amateur we can see that the off season either never occurs, or that the athlete decides to increase the intensity of their training – and injuries occur. The off season needs to be structured to maximise the benefits for the following season.

The off season also offers an opportunity for injuries to be treated sensibly and for the body to be rested to allow natural healing processes to occur. The powers of rest cannot be underestimated. This will include having plenty of sleep; it will also include having ‘active recovery’ whereby the body continues to exercise, but in a much lower intensity so that injuries can respond to treatment and heal.

Structure your year to peak for your events and also to have an off season. Your physiotherapist and trainer can work closely together to design an off season which will help heal your injuries and also maximise your potential for the following season OR for achieving an extra goal.

Personal Training Series: “Don’t care, get over the finish line”, can lead to injury

Some athletes are bloody minded and will do anything to win. Some clients only see the goal at the end but don’t think about the process of getting there. In physiotherapy I see many people who have trained incorrectly because they focus only on the event they are racing and not on how to train to get there.

Having a personal trainer and a physiotherapist work with you can vastly improve your chances of reaching your goal, with minimal to no injuries. The training process can be designed specifically for the goal and the exercises required to achieve the goal can be taught correctly.

When designing a training programme there are many variables to consider such as: exercise technique, timing of training, intensity of training, the environment of training, progressions of training, and even what is happening in an individual’s life. Having a team to work with you takes away the need to think. The professionals also have the experience and the knowledge to give you the best training advice.

When working with a physiotherapist and trainer you can contact them at any time. They can talk to you when you get injured, when you have questions about your training, and when you want to know what to do if you get injured. Having this team is like being a professional athlete, and provides the greatest chance of success.

I have seen amateur athletes start training, and progress doing extremely well without any help; then they reach a certain mileage in training and their body starts to break down.  At this point it is too late to change technique and training regime because the race is within a few weeks. Treatment is then about first aid care – doing everything possible to keep that person training despite the risk of increased injury, and the fact that the race is now in jeopardy. There are many emotions which accompany being in a position of unknown at race time. A person with injuries does not know how the body will react during the race; the target or goals in that race no longer apply; and all those weeks / months of training have been put at risk. To cross the finish line is often the goal after an injury has occurred. A plan then needs to be made to race the following year with correct training principles, guided by the personal trainer and physiotherapist.

It helps to get the right advice to train. Speak to your physiotherapist – who works closely with a personal trainer – to create a winning team.

Last 1.5 weeks of training before the Etape de tour 2011

The last week of training was a killer. My coach had me train 4 days in the week and a combination of long rides, time trials and medium distance rides in big gears to make my legs work harder. I then travelled to Switzerland to watch the Ironman and have come back to another 2 hour bike session.

I certainly hit my biggest weeks of training on the last two weeks and with cycling there really isn’t such a thing as an easy week. My coach had me ride 2 hours this week to keep my legs going and the day before the race there will be another 1 hour ride. I was tired at the end of last week and still feeling the affects of travelling to Zurich and getting up at 3am for the race preparation and race day.

It was good to get back on the bike with my riding partner yesterday and push hard. My body seemed to forget what pushing hard on the bike felt like.

I still need rest before the race and I have been crabo loading. My appetite has increased significantly with the amount of training I have been doing. I am eating pasta and rice with simple toppings to keep it easy on my digestive system. There will be a pasta pasty the day before the race and I am looking forward to eating well from here on in.

My racing bike is now in transit to France. My riding partner is taking it on the back of his 4×4 vehicle as he has a house in France. I am packing tonight and then off early to get to the airport on time. I have made a list of everything I need to take. It is vitally important to remember my medical certificate otherwise I would not get my race number to ride. I also arranged travel insurance with Snow Card. There are few companies providing full medical cover for bike races.

In the last three weeks I have been having problems with a loud noise coming from my bike when I ride up hill. I had my bike mechanic come to my house twice to sort it out and to change my gearing to a 34 on the front and 28 on the back. He changed the chain and also gave the bike a new pedal bracket. I tested the bike yesterday morning and it was still making a noise so I took it to Sigma sports where my bike mechanic works to have another look.

The noise was not coming from the pedal bracket it was somewhere around the steering column. He chose to lube the entire headset and we thought it was sorted but then I tested it and again the noise was present. This was getting frustrating and I was worried as I was giving my bike over for transportation to France that day.

I was testing the bike and then another Sigma bike mechanic heard the noise. He said it had to be the front wheel axle. He lubed the entire area around the axle including the connection with the front forks. Magic, the noise was gone. It showed me how difficult it can be to judge where noise is coming from on a bike and to lube the bike if it has been in the rain or not been serviced for a long time.

I am relaxed mentally and I am looking forward to the entire experience. I will be with 5000-6000 other riders and having a riding partner makes all the difference as it will be along day. I am expecting to do it in 9-10 hours. The professionals rode stage 9 on the weekend and there were some serious accidents. The wet road can be dangerous on the hairpin turns so braking carefully and slowing down is important.

This is it I am about to do the Etape de tour 2011. It has been tough training as the rides have been so long and I have worked at the same time. I am glad training is over and now I am ready to race. On my website I am posting the entire Act II guidance booklet from my tour company. It contains everything a rider needs to know. On the following blog I am also putting the analysis of the Etape stage by an ex-pro cyclist. I asked him to break the race down as if he was doing it and his insights have been extremely valuable.

I will read over advice from cycle fit, look at the course and then watch the Tour de France to prepare. It is surreal knowing I am about to take on a stage of the current Tour de France.