Recovery: Fact or Fiction?

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Recovery: Fact or Fiction?

If you’re champing at the bit to sweat it out again there’s hundreds of “miracle cures” to help those sore muscles get back in business. But are these cures more old wives’ tale than scientific remedy? Here’s the lowdown on the most popular recovery methods.

The Cure: Compression

The Verdict: Maybe

Compression garments claim to reduce muscle soreness from intense exercise, so should you make them your new squeeze (excuse the pun)? Research results are mixed, but overall they seem to have a positive, if minimal, effect.

The Cure: Massage

The Verdict: Yes

Need an excuse to get your partner to give you a back rub? Massage works by reducing production of inflammation proteins (cytokines) while stimulating production of mitochondria which boosts cell function and repair, according to Science Translational Medicine.

The Cure: Anti-Inflammatory Pills

The Verdict: No

While these pills can speed muscle recovery (Clinical Sports Medicine), they also hinder muscle hypertrophy (growth). Not a great trade-off.

The Cure: Ice Bath

The Verdict: Maybe

Many (brave!) athletes swear by taking an ice bath after exercise, but recent researchers say they are wasting their time. However, others suggest you can reduce soreness and inflammation by 20%. If you don’t feel brave enough for the full experience, try putting an ice pack on the sore spots.

The Cure: Sleep

The Verdict: Yes

Your mum was right: you will feel better in the morning. Sleep may just be the ultimate recovery tool because your body releases growth hormone which will repair your muscles quick smart.


The Cure: Stretching

The Verdict: Maybe

A review of 12 studies on the effects of post-workout stretching shows it reduced muscle soreness by just one point on a 100-point scale. New research suggests foam rolling may have a better success rate.


The Cure: Heat Therapy

The Verdict: Maybe

It sounds a lot more pleasant than dunking yourself in an ice bath, but heat hasn’t been shown to be effective in preventing DOMs. Your best bet? Contrast therapy: cycle 10 minutes of ice pack on, 10 minutes of heat pack on.

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