Acute Post-Exercise Recovery Strategies in Cycling: A Review
Cycling events often include multiple races a day or racing over consecutive days. Congested competition schedules and increased training load have led to the implementation of recovery strategies; with the goal of alleviating post-exercise fatigue and enhancing subsequent performance. This review aims to review the efficacy of recovery strategies used following different cycling events. Compression garments have been shown to improve subsequent 30s – 30min mean cycling power and 5-min max cycling power, while cold water immersion may improve 5-15s sprint cycling power output, 1-15min time trial (TT) total work performed and mean power output in hot and humid conditions. Cold water immersion was also more beneficial than active recovery at improving total work performed. Contrast water therapy could increase 15s – 15min TT work performed and sprint mean and peak power output. Similarly, active recovery has been shown to improve power measures and time to completion. Conversely, hot water immersion appears to be detrimental to sprint power output and TT power output over consecutive days. Thermoneutral water immersion appears beneficial for improving average cycling speed and time to completion during a 20-km TT, where humidification therapy and sports massage are beneficial at improving sprint and middle duration time trial performance. A combination of recovery strategies appear more beneficial than stand-alone strategies and various combinations should be explored further.
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