Versey, Halson & Dawson (2013) Water immersion recovery for athletes: effect on exercise performance and practical recommendations.

Water immersion is increasingly being used by elite athletes seeking to minimize fatigue and accelerate post-exercise recovery. Accelerated short-term (hours to days) recovery may improve competition performance, allow greater training loads or enhance the effect of a given training load. However, the optimal water immersion protocols to assist short-term recovery of performance still remain unclear. This article will review the water immersion recovery protocols investigated in the literature, their effects on performance recovery, briefly outline the potential mechanisms involved and provide practical recommendations for their use by athletes. For the purposes of this review, water immersion has been divided into four techniques according to water temperature: cold water immersion (CWI; ≤20 °C), hot water immersion (HWI; ≥36 °C), contrast water therapy (CWT; alternating CWI and HWI) and thermoneutral water immersion (TWI; >20 to <36 °C). Numerous articles have reported that CWI can enhance recovery of performance in a variety of sports, with immersion in 10–15 °C water for 5–15 min duration appearing to be most effective at accelerating performance recovery. However, the optimal CWI duration may depend on the water temperature, and the time between CWI and the subsequent exercise bout appears to influence the effect on performance. The few studies examining the effect of post-exercise HWI on subsequent performance have reported conflicting findings; therefore the effect of HWI on performance recovery is unclear. CWT is most likely to enhance performance recovery when equal time is spent in hot and cold water, individual immersion durations are short (~1 min) and the total immersion duration is up to approximately 15 min. A dose-response relationship between CWT duration and recovery of exercise performance is unlikely to exist. Some articles that have reported CWT to not enhance performance recovery have had methodological issues, such as failing to detect a decrease in performance in control trials, not performing full-body immersion, or using hot showers instead of pools. TWI has been investigated as both a control to determine the effect of water temperature on performance recovery, and as an intervention itself. However, due to conflicting findings it is uncertain whether TWI improves recovery of subsequent exercise performance. Both CWI and CWT appear likely to assist recovery of exercise performance more than HWI and TWI; however, it is unclear which technique is most effective. While the literature on the use of water immersion for recovery of exercise performance is increasing, further research is required to obtain a more complete understanding of the effects on performance.

Sargent, C, Halson, S & Roach, GD (2014) Sleep or swim? Early-morning training severely restricts the amount of sleep obtained by elite swimmers

Good sleep is essential for optimal performance, yet few studies have examined the sleep/wake behaviour of elite athletes. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of early-morning training on the amount of sleep obtained by world-class swimmers. A squad of seven swimmers from the Australian Institute of Sport participated in this study during 14 days of high-intensity training in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games. During these 14 days, participants had 12 training days, each starting with a session at 06:00 h, and 2 rest days. For each day, the amount of sleep obtained by participants was determined using self-report sleep diaries and wrist-worn activity monitors. On nights that preceded training days, participants went to bed at 22:05 h (s=00:52), arose at 05:48 h (s=00:24) and obtained 5.4 h (s=1.3) of sleep. On nights that preceded rest days, participants went to bed at 00:32 h (s=01:29), arose at 09:47 h (s=01:47) and obtained 7.1 h (s=1.2) of sleep. Mixed model analyses revealed that on nights prior to training days, bedtimes and get-up times were significantly earlier (p<0.001), time spent in bed was significantly shorter (p<0.001) and the amount of sleep obtained was significantly less (p<0.001), than on nights prior to rest days. These results indicate that early-morning training sessions severely restrict the amount of sleep obtained by elite athletes. Given that chronic sleep restriction of <6 h per night can impair psychological and physiological functioning, it is possible that early-morning schedules actually limit the effectiveness of training.

Sands, Apostolopoulos, Kavanaugh & Stone (2016) Recovery-adaptation.

Athlete training should proceed from thorough and systematic periodized plans for the implementation of training loads. The time-course of training should include periods of high loads punctuated by reduced loads and rest. As there are a wide variety of means and methods used for the implementation of loads, there are numerous means and methods for enhancing recovery and adaptation (ra). Ra from athlete training are poorly understood and in need of a model or framework to advance our ability to systematically complement training with appropriate modalities.

Halson (2014) Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep.

Sleep has numerous important physiological and cognitive functions that may be particularly important to elite athletes. Recent evidence, as well as anecdotal information, suggests that athletes may experience a reduced quality and/or quantity of sleep. Sleep deprivation can have significant effects on athletic performance, especially submaximal, prolonged exercise. Compromised sleep may also influence learning, memory, cognition, pain perception, immunity and inflammation. Furthermore, changes in glucose metabolism and neuroendocrine function as a result of chronic, partial sleep deprivation may result in alterations in carbohydrate metabolism, appetite, food intake and protein synthesis. These factors can ultimately have a negative influence on an athlete’s nutritional, metabolic and endocrine status and hence potentially reduce athletic performance. Research has identified a number of neurotransmitters associated with the sleep–wake cycle. These include serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid, orexin, melanin-concentrating hormone, cholinergic, galanin, noradrenaline, and histamine. Therefore, nutritional interventions that may act on these neurotransmitters in the brain may also influence sleep. Carbohydrate, tryptophan, valerian, melatonin and other nutritional interventions have been investigated as possible sleep inducers and represent promising potential interventions. In this review, the factors influencing sleep quality and quantity in athletic populations are examined and the potential impact of nutritional interventions is considered. While there is some research investigating the effects of nutritional interventions on sleep, future research may highlight the importance of nutritional and dietary interventions to enhance sleep.

Tristan Chai