Recovery Myths: Fact or Fiction

Recovery modalities are highly promoted yet misunderstood by so many “industry professionals”. Here Matt Ham explores the common issues with recovery and what should be advocated following the cessation of training.

A lot of boutique training studios for the general public are spruiking cryo chambers, Normatecs and ice baths. It is important to remember that the average person who does 3 to 4 circuit classes like F45 or similar and counts steps everyday isn’t exactly in need of such equipment for recovery. The best recovery is always sleep and nutrition, with the bespoke modalities mentioned to be used solely as icing on the cake and even then, probably not necessary as they are usually reserved for athletes or serious amateur athletes/trainers.

I have seen in the last couple of weeks a few Instagram ‘fitness professionals’ advocate the use of these types of recovery processes, suggesting that there is a need to rid lactic acid out of the muscles for recovery. Quite frankly, if you are a fitness professional and believe lactic acid is responsible for muscle damage, then you should not be a fitness professional.

For most people, lactic acid will clear within 3 minutes post intense bouts of exercise, give or take a minute or two. If you are sore from working out it is not from lactic acid, rather it is the resulting metabolic damage in the exercised area, as the biochemistry involved in the pain process proves to be somewhat necessary to allow for physiological adaptations. If you are not training as an elite athlete week in week out or not involved in a tournament with multiple games/events in a short period, then I’d argue that you do not need to be using those recovery modalities; it is even more ridiculous to be spruiking them if you are an Insta-fitness professional/influencer advocating their use after getting your 15 000 steps in for the day.

Remember soreness from sessions is necessary to adapt and progress; if you are constantly stunting that with recovery methods not needed at your level then you are actually inhibiting progression, as opposed to aiding it. Train hard, eat right and sleep well – if you simply want to be healthier as well as function and look better, then simply, don’t get caught up in the gimmicks. The same can be said for most athletes – unless you have multiple sessions daily, or have short turnarounds between games with travel then depending on the particular situation, I would still advocate the ‘eat, drink and sleep well’ method long before the modalities above (especially during preseason, where physiological adaptation is the goal).

Stick to the proven methods, ignore gimmicks and trust fitness professionals who you can talk to, not a person on an app who has a vested interest in getting likes and has no accountability to you for their words.

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