Fitzpatrick, P. A., Dolan, E., May, G. C., & Warrington, G. (2009). The effects of various recovery strategies on post-exercise recovery and subsequent performance. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation Number 737.

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This study assessed the effects of three different recovery modalities following maximal exercise and investigated the impact of each strategy on subsequent performance. Trained male rugby union players (N = 10) were tested on three separate occasions. Each test began with a field based maximal aerobic endurance test (20MST), after which each S completed in a random order, one of three recovery strategies: passive recovery, active recovery, or ice bath immersion. Passive recovery involved lying supine for 20 minutes. Active recovery entailed stationary cycling for 20 minutes at 50% heart rate reserve. The ice-bath treatment required Ss to sit waist deep in an ice bath (5-8C) for 3 x 30-second repetitions separated by one minute of standing outside the bath. Following a 45-minute post-recovery strategy period, Ss completed six maximal shuttle sprints of a timed agility performance test (Illinois agility test) with 20 seconds recovery between each sprint. Blood lactate and muscle soreness ratings were measured at various intervals throughout each exercise and the recovery trial.

Active recovery resulted in significantly lower blood lactate levels five minutes into the recovery strategy when compared to passive recovery. Muscle soreness was significantly lower for the ice-bath than for active recovery immediately after the 20-minute recovery period. None of the other recovery indices were significantly different across trials during the 45 minutes of post-exercise recovery period. Following the implementation of each of the three recovery strategies, no significant differences were observed for the subsequent performance test.

Implication. While active recovery enhances lactate removal, an ice-bath reduces perceived muscle soreness. There is no difference between active, passive, or ice-bath recovery modalities on subsequent performance.

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