Recovery after training and competition allows athletes to return to their normal physiological and psychological state as rapidly as possible. Various techniques are employed by athletes so that performance in their next competition or training session will not be unduly compromised by muscle soreness and/or fatigue.
There is increasing scientific evidence supporting the benefits of recovery techniques to enhance human performance in various physical exercise and fitness domains—and these are not limited to elite sports athletes.
Some examples of ways to enhance recovery include:
- Sleep and rest
- Compression garments
- Relaxation techniques
- Travel strategies
Groups, societies and professional bodies
Performance recovery covers a range of disciplines and therefore a number of societies may be applicable. The main professional bodies in Australia are:
- Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting, and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.
- Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) is a national multidisciplinary organisation committed to enhancing the health of all Australians through safe participation in sport and physical activity.
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) members range from academics to students and from personal trainers to physicians, their association of sports medicine, exercise science, and health and fitness professionals is dedicated to helping people worldwide live longer, healthier lives.
- American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) is the professional organisation representing and promoting the profession of exercise physiology. It is committed to the professional development and advancement of exercise physiology and the credibility of exercise physiologists.
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) is the principal body for physical activity, health and fitness research and personal training in Canada.
- European College of Sport Medicine (ECOSEP) is a medical speciality society comprised of physician members within the European community.
Vocational education and training
Performance recovery practitioners come primarily from physiology backgrounds but recovery also spans a number of other disciplines including medicine, physical therapies, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and psychology. Undergraduate studies may include Bachelor degrees in: Sport and Exercise Science, Applied Science, Exercise Science and Human Movement, or similar. These courses are offered at numerous universities around Australia and internationally.
In order to specialise in performance recovery it is likely that post graduate study will be required which may include the completion of an honours or PhD project in a relevant discipline.
Opportunities for professional experience are often facilitated through university undergraduate programs. National Institute Network (NIN) organisations, National Sport Organisations (NSOs), State Sport Organisations (SSOs), professional sport clubs, and local sport clubs can also provide opportunities for undergraduate and post graduate students to gain professional experience.
AIS Performance Recovery supporting Australian athletes
- Education of athletes and coaches on fatigue and recovery practices and physiology.
- Conducting recovery sessions.
- Developing team travel protocols.
- Monitoring athletes sleep.
- Monitoring athletes training loads and responses to training.
- Supplying teams and athletes with recovery equipment.
- Developing recovery facilities through advice on design and operation.
- Undertaking applied fatigue and recovery research.
The Recovery Centre is focused on developing and implementing world’s best practice recovery strategies and techniques to optimise athlete training and performance. This state of the art facility provides athletes with cutting edge recovery techniques using a multidisciplinary approach.
The Recovery Centre has the capacity for researchers to conduct evidence-based research and measurement of outcome effectiveness, which is vital to ensure the scientific validity of recovery is enhanced.
The Recovery Centre is divided into dry and wet areas. The dry area includes a massage area, stretching area, flotation tank, relaxation rooms, compression boots and changing rooms.
The wet area is designed to allow athletes to engage in active and passive recovery in both hot and cold water. It encompasses a number of hydrotherapy options including hot and cold showers, spa with jets that can target major muscle groups, plunge pool and a whirlpool at normal pool temperature.
Australian Institute of Sport Research Reports
Further resources and reading
Access to resources
Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.
- 2 min guide: simple steps to improve your sleep [infographic], @YLMSportScience, (accessed 30 July 2020).
- Monitoring Fatigue And Recovery, Halson, Shona L., Sports Science Exchange, Volume 27(135), p.1 (2014)
- Recovery Tips for Elite Athletes. Western Australian Institute of Sport, (July 2011). Effective recovery includes multiple physical and nutritional components and is a process that can prevent negative consequences for up to three days post exercise.
- Sleep [factsheet], Australian Institute of Sport, (2013)
Licencing restrictions apply to some resources listed below.
All Clearinghouse members
'Australian' members only
'High Performance' members only Restricted access Various restrictions
Please see Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.
- Performance testing reliability - Is this a missing link? Graham Dudley - Global Performance Testing International and Prof Hans Westerbeek - Victoria University/ISEAL, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (16 October 2017)
- AIS Movement Science Forum, Brisbane, Queensland, (9-10 August 2017)
- Applications of Inertial Movement Units (IMU), Jon Iriberri - Biomechanist and former Spanish Track Cycling Head Coach, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (27 July 2017)
- Googliness, Data Hippos, Taoism, Confucianism and Aristotle: Lessons for Aussie Sport? Dr Mitchell Mooney and Dr Marc Portus - Australian Institute of Sport, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (29 June 2017)
- Movement Science Forum, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (13-14 December 2016)
- Modelling Movement - The Dive Mechanic Case Study, Dr Paul Cleary, Chief Researcher, CSIRO, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (27 May 2016)
- Physical Elastic Motion Laws Applied to Anatomy and Movement deduces a Mechanism of all Musculoskeletal Injuries, Dr Geoffrey Verrall, MBBS, FACSP, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (9 December 2015)
- The effects of increasing running speed on running mechanics, Dr Nick Brown, Australian Institute of Sport, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (9 November 2015)
- Overview of the HPSRF process, Joseph Winter, Head of AIS Innovation, Research and Development, Presentation to Sport Sector Staff, (9 October 2015)
- Threats to Internal Validity in Exercise Science: A Review of Overlooked Confounding Variables, Israel Halperin, PhD candidate, Edith Cowan University / AIS Combat Centre, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (29 September 2015)
- Influence of Biological and Technical Variability on Physique Assessment Methods, Ava Kerr, Manager of Health, Sport and Exercise Science Facilities at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (17 August 2015)
- New developments in non-invasive cardiac output measurements in high performance athletes and cardiovascular medicine, Mr. Frank Bour, Developer, Managing Director and Co-founder, Manatec Biomedical, France ,Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (21 July 2015)
- Movement Science Forum, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (29-30 April 2015)
- Research into practice: Biomechanics in sport and exercise, Bruce Elliot, Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow, University of Western Australia, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (2 April 2015)
- Sports Technology and Biomechanics at the US Olympic Training Center in California, Dr. Phil Cheetham, Senior Sport Technologist, US Olympic Committee, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (2 September 2014)
- Training for Optimal Power: The Influence of Resistance and Muscle Mechanics on Power Output, Dr Dominic Farris, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (11 June 2014)
- Embracing the Dolphin: Redefining the sport of swimming, Frank Fish, Professor of Biology, West Chester University, Smart Talk Seminar Series (5 May 2014)
- XIIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming (BMS2014), Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (28 April - 2 May 2014)
- An update on Computational Fluid Dynamics, Dr Raymond Cohen, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (6 December 2013)
- Sources of Mechanical Power for Human Movement, Dr Glen Lichtwark and Dr Dominic Farris, University of Queensland, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (4 March 2013)
- Computational modelling for improving swimming performance, Dr Raymond Cohen, CSIRO, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (8 February 2013)