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Recovery for Performance

Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still feel guilty when they take a day off. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.

Why Do I Need to Incorporate Recovery?

After an intense workout, the stimulus on the fatigued muscles creates microscopic amounts of cell damage in the muscle. In doing so, satellite cells can enter the muscle to help build the density of the muscle fibre, making your muscles stronger and more durable.

The role of recovery is to maximise this process! It takes time for this process to occur. The quicker we can help the muscles in the body to adapt to these changes, the better off we will be from both an injury prevention and pure performance point of view.

Recovery can take place in many ways. Many of us know some classic forms of recovery (i.e. stretching down after a workout), however our knowledge of recovery has grown from this.

Passive Recovery

The most basic form of recovery. It refers to complete rest after a workout, which includes static stretching. While stretching can help us feel looser and more comfortable, the physiological benefit of stretching has been shown to only last 8-15 minutes according to the latest research.

Active Recovery

Refers to a low-load, low impact exercise after your workout. A great example is hopping on a bike for an easy spin after a session. These low load forms of exercise promote blood flow and muscle repair without further stressing the body. It also helps rid the body of waste products produced by the muscles in the session (eg. lactic acid).

Myofascial Release

Also known as soft tissue therapy, it refers to massage or foam rolling after a session. Myofascial release has been shown to increase joint range of motion in the short-term without decreasing muscle performance. It also helps to reduce the perceived pain of exercise, otherwise known as DOMS.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Otherwise known as deep belly breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is a fantastic form of recovery as it helps to lower the stress response of muscles to exercise, lowering the production of Cortisol (too much Cortisol in the system can inhibit protein synthesis, which is vital for muscle growth & repair).


Nutrition is absolutely vital in helping your body recover. A post workout snack/meal high in lean protein will promote protein synthesis in the muscle to promote muscle growth and repair. To further promote protein synthesis, you must rehydrate your body with 1.5L of water for every kg lost during a workout to replenish your hydration status.


Sleep is the most important form of recovery for your body. Specifically, non-REM sleep (known as deep sleep) releases growth hormones from the pituitary gland, which is critical to stimulate tissue growth and muscle repair. When you enter into a non-REM deep sleep, your blood pressure drops, and your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Your brain is resting with minimal activity, so the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients in order to facilitate their healing and growth.

It is the alternation of adaptation and recovery that takes athletes to a higher level of fitness. High-level athletes need to realize that the greater the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for recovery. Monitor your workouts with a training log and pay attention to how your body feels and how motivated you are. This will help you determine your recovery needs and modify your training program accordingly

Through recovery, we are helping the body prepare for the next session. If we aren’t allowing our body to recover from session to session, we are not preparing our body well enough. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

See a Physiotherapist who can help tailor a specific program and modify your current exercise routine to ensure that your body is not only getting enough activity and stimulus, but also enough rest to ensure maximum performance.

If you are currently battling an injury or need advice on how to train around your injury / see how physiotherapy can help, please feel free to contact Oliver. He can be contacted at Health Space Clinics Kingsford on 9663 2151 or Rozelle on 9810 8769

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