Sports Performance Recovery

Sports Performance Recovery         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Australian Institute of Sport Physiology Department (January 2018)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 19 January 2018
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Community Sport Coaching
Sport Australia


Recovery after training and competition allows elite 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 now increasing scientific evidence supporting the benefits of recovery techniques to enhance human performance in a number of physical exercise, strength conditioning and fitness domains—and these are not limited to elite sports athletes.

There are a number of ways to enhance recovery including:

  • Sleep and rest
  • Nutrition
  • Periodisation 
  • Warm-down
  • Massage
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Compression garments
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Travel strategies

Performance recovery practitioners come primarily from physiology background but recovery also spans a number of other disciplines including medicine, physical therapies, nutrition, strength & 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 the country 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.

Professional Experience

Opportunities for professional experience are often facilitated through University Undergraduate programs.  State Institutes/Academies of Sport, 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 in sport.  

The Australian Institute of Sport offers a limited number of placements on an annual basis to students who wish to gain industry experience. 

Professional Accreditation

In December 2017 the Australian Sports Commission (now Sport Australia) announced the introduction of a national accreditation scheme for sport scientists (including but not limited to physiologists, biomechanists, performance analysts, skill acquisition specialists and strength scientists) and strength and conditioning coaches. The schemes will be run in partnership with Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) and the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA). In order to continue receiving funding through Sport Ausatralia's Sport Investment Agreements, national sporting organisation will be required to ensure that all sport science and strength and conditioning staff have relevant accreditation with ESSA and/or ASCA by the end of 2018. The scheme will be reviewed after 2 years.  

Exercise physiology accreditation is available from Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) to those professionals working in a clinical setting. ESSA requires accredited exercise physiologists (AEPs) to maintain their accreditation through continuing professional development. 

Performance recovery covers a range of disciplines and therefore a number of societies may be applicable:


  • Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) is a professional organisation which is 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.  

Australian State Institutes and Academies

Performance Recovery is a service offered across the Australian high performance sport training-centre network:


    • 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 (ECSEP) is a medical speciality society comprised of physician members within the European community.

    AIS Performance Recovery was established to provide expert scientific advice on post-exercise fatigue and recovery physiology.  The practitioners work with a wide range of sports throughout Australia, and in conjunction with other service providers to perform the following roles:

    • 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.

    Applied research into the effects of recovery techniques on athletic performance and the physiological mechanisms involved are vital aspects of the AIS Performance Recovery discipline. This research is undertaken to provide athletes and coaches with the best advice possible, and may be conducted through strong links with national and international experts, universities and companies.

    AIS Recovery Centre

    The AIS 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.

    The Recovery Centre is staffed by the Performance Recovery Team and is partnered by 2XU

    Australian Institute of Sport Research Reports 

    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.

    Academic Articles

    Electronic journals


    • Monitoring Fatigue And Recovery, Halson, Shona L., Sports Science Exchange, Vol. 27 Issue 135, p1 (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.  

    Other Videos

    Clearinghouse Videos

    Please note a number of the resources below (as indicated) are restricted to ‘GOLD' AIS Advantage small AIS Advantage members only.
    Please see the Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.

    Related Topics


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