The bottom line is you want to know how to get through a baseball season feeling good, throwing hard, and injury-free… right?
We’re going to dive into the do’s and don’ts of post game recovery. ****Link to resource list is at the bottom****
#1 Worst approach to post game recovery
- Passive recovery
Many studies have shown that, when compared to other alternatives, passive recovery is by far the big loser.
Because blood circulation and muscle activation are critical for the healing process, sitting around is the worst thing you can do for your body immediately after intense exercise.
- Topical icing (ice packs)
Icing is still very popular with MLB players.
The scientific literature is very undecided. Some show mild benefits, some show no benefit, some show it actually delays healing (We’re going to tackle this controversy in another email).
- Cold tub or Cold Water Immersion Therapy (CWI)
- Contrast immersion therapy
Ask just about any pro athlete who uses these therapies and they’ll tell you without a doubt it makes them feel better.
Study results don’t always agree, but overall evidence that shows CWI has most noticeable effect on DOMS (soreness) and also helps with the recovery of muscle power.
It’s worth noting that some the credit for effectiveness goes to hydrostatic pressure (as opposed to temperature effects on the body).
Wearing compression garments after intense exercise decreases DOMS and improves muscular strength, power and decreased blood markers of muscle injury.
- Active recovery
The most well-documented benefit of active recovery is the alleviation of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
But active recovery goes way beyond alleviating soreness. A major 2015 study showed the active recovery group recovered faster and performed better in every category when compared against a Cold Water Immersion group.
This is probably because 3 of the 4 main components in muscle recovery & repair are completely dependent on muscle movement.
***WARNING*** It’s important to point out that active recovery that is done improperly or is too intense is actually counter-productive and worse than doing nothing at all.
Between 4 and 15 minutes light cardio (such as a stationary bike or light jog) at no more than a 25% effort level is recommended.
The best trainers use a smart combination of recovery aids for the best results.
From Yankees trainer Lee Tressel – “A typical routine for our guys would be coming out of the game and completing some light cardio followed by light shoulder exercises and light stretching, then at that point the pitcher would either ice or not ice.
Either way the most important thing comes next which is to rehydrate and get some form of recovery nutrition in the body which could be a sports drink, protein shake or other recovery formula.
Letting the body rest and recover, getting the proper nutrition with meals and getting good sleep would be the other factors the pitcher needs to focus on throughout the rest of the day.”
- Electrical muscle stimulation devices (EMS)
Muscle stim devices have an impressive body of scientific evidence on their side.
Basically, EMS uses the principles of active recovery while eliminating many of the constraints and drawbacks. The results have been pretty amazing.
The particular one I have used and trust is the Marc Pro, which is currently being used by 27 of the 30 Major League teams (and we have a discount code for you to use ?). If you want to learn more about it, I suggest the following:
- MLB pitcher Chris Bootcheck’s personal account on how the device helped him
- The Tech Tool That’s Helping Elite Pitchers Throw Harder and Recover Faster
And if you decide you need a Marc Pro for your facility or at home, use this code to get 5% off: pbirecover
Hope this helps. Stay healthy!
Doug & Sarah Bernier
***IMPORTANT*** Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional. Nothing in this post should be used as medical advice.