Water therapies are much underutilised and undervalued. In Europe Russia and Scandinavia a wide range of treatments have been in use several thousand years. Recent research in Finland has shown that underwater massaging following strength/power training reduces neural fatigue and helps to maintain neuromuscular performances, and that a spa and plunge pool routine aids recovery. Such routines involve a shower followed by a spa (39-40o C) for three minutes and then a cold shower or plunge into a cold pool (10-15o C) for 30 to 60 seconds. Spas should only be used if the athlete is in a healthy state and has no new soft tissue injuries. Athletes should not stay in a spa for more than five minutes as they are likely to experience a large drop in blood pressure and feel faint and dizzy as a result. This feeling will be more evident if they have not been hydrating during the session.

Showering within 10 minutes of at the end of a session is a good way to reduce fatigue in the peripheral nervous system, shower with cold and hot water in interval using water heated system. If there is access to a pool then a few light active movements with some stretching in the pool (up to five minutes) is beneficial.

Following this form of hydrotherapy, muscles are more relaxed and are much easier to massage. Athletes can be taught some basic self-massage skills that they can apply, particularly to their lower legs and necks. Self-massage is also easy to do in a warm shower.

High performance hockey players tried a contrast temperature protocol involving a hot pool, with no underwater massaging, and cold plunge (same protocol as outlined above), and their recovery of lactate levels was measured after a series of Wingate tests. A comparison of lactate clearances following passive rest, light exercising (active recovery) and the contrast immersion techniques was undertaken. Lactate levels recovered equally quickly after either the contrast water immersion protocol or the active recovery protocol, and significantly more slowly after passive rest (Sanders 1996).

The choice between contrast temperatures or an active rest routine after training often hinges on access to appropriate facilities. However, it is essential to replenish energy stores as soon as possible after exercise. Active recovery for 10 to 15 minutes following training requires extra energy and may be less effective if the work done has already depleted energy stores, whereas the energy demands for the spa or shower routine are much less. Athletes also report that they find the water routines more relaxing and enjoyable.

at Monday, August 11, 2008  


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