Competition Scenario:

In a tournament, teams will often have a number of consecutive days of playing games with possibly less than 24 hours between the finish of one game and start of another. They may also have a light “shoot-around” on the day of the game, although these sessions are not usually physically demanding.

Possible Post-Game Recovery Session:

  • Active Recovery (5-10 min at a low intensity)
    • Cycle Ergometer
    • Strictly low intensity
  • Static stretching
    • Objective of static stretching is to return recruited muscles to resting length not to gain flexibility
    • Recommendation: 10-15 sec holds repeated 2-3 times on major muscle groups recruited during competition
    • For recovery, the primary purpose of post-exercise static stretching is to relax the muscle, as opposed to gain flexibility.
  • Cold Water immersion
    • 5-6 x (1 min cold: 1 min out)
    • Optimal temperature 12-15°C
    • Where possible utilise full body immersion
    • Complete post-game shower before cold water immersion session
  • Compression
    • Wear full length compression tights or medical grade compression socks
    • Wear compression garment immediately post cold water immersion; continue to wear for as long as possible, removing prior to the warm-up of next game.

In most circumstances accessibility to inflatable ice baths, chilling machines, pools and cycle ergometers is unlikely at competition venues. Importantly, rather than neglecting recovery altogether, consideration needs to be given to alternate resources which can achieve a similar outcome and still provide a competitive advantage.

Alternative resources for performing cold water immersion

  • Showers
  • Plastic tubs / wheelie bins managed with ice
  • Neighboring facilities (swimming pool, ocean) or hotel facilities

Alternative for Active Recovery

  • Incorporate active recovery/static stretching on field immediately post-game

Competition Scenario Two - Played in Heat

Whilst basketball tournaments may be played in air-conditioned facilities, particularly at junior level this may not be the case. The stresses of physical exertion are often complicated by hot/ humid environmental conditions.

Although the body can effectively thermoregulate in neutral conditions, the mechanisms of thermoregulation can be inadequate when athletes are exposed to extreme conditions. Competing under such conditions necessitates specific post-competition recovery attention to dissipate the heat gained from the environment, along with the heat produced by the active muscles.

Purpose of Recovery Session

  • Decrease core body temperature
  • Decrease sweat rate
  • Enhance thermal comfort
  • Enhance onset of sleep
  • Reduce sensations of pain and fatigue

Possible Protocols

  • 10 min ice bath - full body
  • 10 min pool / 5 min cold shower 25-28°
  • 5 min cold shower - full body x 2
  • 20-30 min pool / ocean - full body
  • 3-5 min cold shower

Post Recovery Session

  • Do not have a hot shower immediately post-recovery
  • Dry off, put sufficient clothing on and try to stay in an air conditioned environment
  • Maintain hydration

Training Camps

Often teams will come together for intensive periods of preparation, with or without competitive games being played. This can involve repetitive phases of high load strength and conditioning training and recovery.

Intense training with inadequate and/ or inappropriate recovery builds an accumulation of fatigue rather than optimal performance and adaptation. Importantly, athletes need to frequently undertake recovery during a training week to allow for adequate physiological and psychological restoration in order to achieve super-compensation and minimise the risks associated with overtraining.

Possible Post-Training Recovery Session:

  • Active Recovery Options (5-10 min low intensity)
    • Cycle Ergometer
    • Whirlpool / Swimming Pool / Beach
    • Walking / Light Jogging
  • Static Stretching
    • Objective of static stretching is to return recruited muscles to resting length, not to gain flexibility
    • Recommendation: 10-15 sec holds repeated 2-3 times on major muscle groups recruited during training session
  • Contrast Water Immersion Options
    • 1min Hot (38-40ºC): 1 min Cold (12-15 °C) - repeat 7 times OR
    • 2min Hot (38-40ºC): 2 min Cold (12-15 °C) - repeat 3-5 times OR
    • Contrast Shower - 1min Hot: 1 min Cold - repeat 3-7 times
  • Compression
    • Wear full length compression tights or medical grade compression socks

Further information

Further information on contemporary recovery techniques can be found in the following articles:

  • Argus, C. K., M. W. Driller, T. R. Ebert, D. T. Martin and S. L. Halson. 2013. The effects of 4 different recovery strategies on repeat sprint-cycling performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 85: 542-548.
  • Babault, N., C. Cometti, N. A. Maffiuletti and G. Delay. 2011. Does electrical stimulation enhance post-exercise performance recovery? Eur J Appl Physiol 11110: 2501-2507.
  • Bleakley, C. M., F. Bieuzen, G. W. Davison and J. T. Costello. 2014. Whole-body cryotherapy: empiricle evidence and theoretical perspectives. Open Access J Sports Med 105: 25-36.
  • Costello, J. T., L. A. Algar and A. E. Donnelly. 2012. Effects of whole-body cryotherapy (-110°C) on proprioception and indices of muscle damage. Scand J Med Sci Sports 222: 190-198.
  • Crampton, D., B. Donne, S. A. Warmington and M. Egana. 2013. Cycling time to failure is better maintained by cold than contrast or thermoneutral lower-body water immerion in normothermia. Eur J Appl Physiol 11312: 3059-3067.
  • de Glanville, K. M. and M. J. Hamlin. 2012. Positive effect of lower body compression garments on subsequent 40-kM cycling time trial performance. J Strength Cond Res 262: 480-486.
  • Driller, M. W. and S. L. Halson. 2013. The effects of wearing lower body compression garments during a cycling performance test. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 83:300-306。
  • Halson, S. L., J. Bartram, N. West, J. Stephens, C. K. Argus, M. W. Driller, C. Sargent, M. Lastella, W. G. Hopkins and D. T. Martin. 2014. Does hydrotherapy help or hinder adaptation to training in competitive cyclists? Med Sci Sports Exerc.
  • Hausswirth, C., J. Louis, F. Bieuzen, H. Pournot, J. Fournier, J. Filliard and J. Brisswalter. 2011. Effects of whole-body cryotherapy vs. far-intrared vs. passive modalities on recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in highly-trained runners. PLoS ONE 612:e27749.
  • Maffiuletti, N. A. 2010. Physiological and methodological considerations for the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Eur J Appl Physiol 1102:223-234.
  • Magnusson, P. and P. Renstrom. 2006. The European College of Sports Sciences position statement: The role of stretching exercises in sports. Eur J Sport Sci 62: 87-91.
  • Morgan, P. M., A. J. Salacinski and M. A. Stults-Kolehmainen. 2013. The acute effects of flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique on recovery from maximal eccentric exercise. J Strength Cond Res 2712: 3467-3474.
  • Pournot, H., F. o. Bieuzen, J. Louis, J.-R. Fillard, E. Barbiche and C. Hausswirth. 2011. Time-course of changes in inflammatory response after whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures following severe exercise. Plos One 67.
  • Reilly, T. and B. Edwards. 2007. Altered sleep-wake cycles and physical performance in athletes. Physiol Behav 902-3: 274-284.
  • Ridge, B. R. 1986. Physiological response to combinations of exercise and sauna. Aust J Sci Med in Sport 184: pp. 25-28.
  • Scoon, G., W. Hopkins, S. Mayhew and J. Cotter. 2007. Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport 104: 259-262.
  • Vaile, J., S. Halson, N. Gill and B. Dawson. 2008. Effect of hydrotherapy on recovery from fatigue. Int J Sports Med 297: 539-544.
  • Vaile, J., S. Halson, N. Gill and B. Dawson. 2008. Effect of hydrotherapy on signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. Eur J Appl Physiol 1024: 447-455.
  • Versey, N., S. Halson and B. Dawson. 2011. Effect of contrast water therapy duration on recovery of cycling performance: a dose-response study. Eur J Appl Physiol 1111: 37-46.
  • Versey, N. G., S. L. Halson and B. T. Dawson. 2012. Effect of contrast water therapy duration on recovery of running performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 72: 130-140.
  • Versey, N. G., S. L. Halson and B. T. Dawson. 2013. Water immersion recovery for athletes: effect on exercise performance and practical recommendations.