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Recovery Techniques – What’s the Evidence?

You may have seen footage during the sports reports of athletes wearing compression garments, sipping on sports drinks or swimming in cold conditions. It is common routine for athletes to utilise recovery methods to assist with the high demand of physical activity, whilst minimising muscle soreness and gaining the most benefit out of each training session. Several products have failed to live up to the benefits they claim, lacking in evidence and leaving a significant financial burden. So, what does the evidence tell us about basic recovery aids?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reviewed five of the most common recovery aids: compression, massage, caloric replacement and, cold and heat.

Research has indicated that compression garments are beneficial as a recovery aid. This form of therapy decreases delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and improves performance on distance running, cycling power, muscular strength and power, and reduces the risk levels of muscle injury.

Massage is the most commonly used recovery aid for athletes across all sports and levels of competition. It may delay the time to DOMS, however it can briefly decrease muscular strength shortly after treatment. The foam roller technique is used to provide controlled pressure to muscles, which may also decrease DOMS and improve athletic performance.

Calorie Replacement
To improve muscle glycogen (carbohydrates) replenishment and muscle repair and growth, it is necessary to eat a normal healthy diet when exercise sessions are at least 24 hours apart. Athletes who train or compete more frequently, can improve muscle glycogen replenishment by consuming foods with higher glycaemic index and using earlier carbohydrate replacement. Improving muscle recovery can be done by protein supplementation and protein-carbohydrate recovery aids. The Position Statement on Nutrition & Athletic Performance by the ACSM encourages carbohydrate replacement within 30 minutes of post-exercise with 1 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight at 2-hour intervals up to 6 hours.

Cold therapy is believed to work by influencing inflammation, blood flow, nutrient transport, nerve conduction velocity and pain perception. The majority of literature on cold therapy as a recovery tool involves cold water immersion (CWI). During repeated bouts of endurance exercise in the heat, CWI helps maintain low body temperature and improve performance. There are small benefits like the reduction of DOMS as well as improvements in athletic performance such as a quicker recovery of sprint speed. Ice should be applied for no longer than necessary (5-15 minutes) and monitored during treatment.

Heat is suggested to decrease muscle soreness by increasing blood flow to treated areas, which improves oxygen uptake and flushing out exercise-related waste products from recovering muscles. There is no strong evidence to support the benefits of the application of heat alone, as most studies have used a blend of heat and cold treatments (sauna/spa, cold water therapies). However, it should be mentioned that different forms of heat treatments (hot packs) are regularly used for treatment of muscle stiffness and soreness.

Each form of recovery aid has its benefits for specific athletes in their chosen athletic scenario. It is important to understand the benefits based on evidence-based research rather than what TV, billboards or social media promote. This understanding can help prepare both athletes and coaches to be effective in their approach to using recovery methods, which will contribute to the overall performance during training sessions and competitions. If I was to give advice to a young athlete, it would be to eat well, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

~ Lindsay Trigar
Lindsay Trigar Physiotherapy

Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

The breakfast meal, like its name suggests is designed to break the overnight fast. For the last 10-12 hours the body has been functioning but is unlikely to have received any source of nutrition. Refuelling the body after an overnight fast is important, but do you know why?

Eating breakfast increases concentration levels over the entire day, can help to manage appetite over the day (which means less hunger in the afternoon or evening) and typical breakfast foods are a fantastic source of nutrients such as fibre. Research has also shown that eating breakfast is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and lower body fat levels.

From a sporting performance point of view, breakfast is a critical opportunity to refuel and repair from training the day before. If you have an early morning training session, it is important to eat a snack or small breakfast prior to training and then follow up with a breakfast meal or significant snack after training also.

Smart choices for breakfast include:

• Fresh fruit, yoghurt and a sprinkle of natural muesli or a few nuts & seeds
• High fibre cereal with milk, possibly topped with fresh or canned (in fruit juice) fruit
• Porridge with milk topped with fresh, dried or canned fruit for sweetness
• Grainy or wholemeal toast with eggs
• Grainy or wholemeal toast topped with baked beans
• Healthy toastie:  lean ham, light cheese & tomato on grain bread (with a scrape of margarine if required)
• Super smoothie: milk, yoghurt, frozen fruit with a spoon of flax meal or LSA
• Veggie omelette – fill your omelette with any combination of mushrooms, tomato, capsicum, onion, spinach and tomato
• Grain or wholemeal toast spread with peanut butter and topped with sliced banana
• Rye toast topped with egg and smoked salmon
• Grainy or wholemeal toast topped with ricotta, sliced pear & flaked almonds
• Grainy or wholemeal English muffin spread with goat’s cheese and topped with prunes, flaked almonds & a light drizzle of honey
• Breakfast on the run:  a glass of milk, a piece of fruit and maybe a healthy muesli bar

We have included some Eat Smart favourite breakfast recipes for your eating pleasure – enjoy!

Magnificent Muesli                 Serves 12 (1/2 cup per serve)
400 g (4 cups) rolled oats 15 g ground linseeds
100 g slivered almonds
40 g pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
125 g dried apricots, chopped
125 g dried cranberries
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
3. You can make Bircher muesli by soaking ½ cup muesli in ½ cup skim/low fat milk (alternatives are soy milk or unsweetened almond milk) or apple juice overnight then stirring through grated apple or pear, and a add a dollop of low fat natural yoghurt.

For toasted muesli:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spread half the oats on a flat ungreased oven tray and cook for about 5 minutes, or until oats brown, stirring once or twice. Repeat with remaining oats.
2. Toast almonds on the same tray.
3. Store in an airtight container.

Brekkie Quinoa                            Serves 2
½ cup quinoa
1 cup milk of your choice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 apple (peeled and diced)
1 tbsp. each slivered almonds, sunflower seeds and sultanas
2 tsp honey (optional)
2 tbsp. natural yoghurt, to serve

1. Rinse quinoa.
2. Place in a saucepan with milk and cinnamon. Bring to the boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add apple to quinoa with nuts, seeds and sultanas. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the progress – its ready when it has a porridge consistency. Add water if porridge looks dry.
5. Stir through honey and serve with a dollop of yoghurt each.

Apple and Passionfruit Bircher Muesli              Serves 4
2 cups low fat Bircher muesli mix (try Carmen’s, Vogel’s brands)
1 cup apple juice 8 tbsp. natural, vanilla or fruit yoghurt 1 Granny Smith apple, skin on, grated 1 punnet strawberries, hulled and chopped
4 tsp honey 2 passionfruit, pulp removed

1.Soak muesli in apple juice overnight (add a little extra water if too dry).  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 2.When ready to serve, divide muesli into 4 bowls.  Evenly portion apple, strawberries, yoghurt, honey and passionfruit over the muesli and serve.

Homemade Toasted Muesli        Serves 16-20
3 cups whole oats (raw) 1 cup raw cashews ½ cup raw brazil nuts ½ cup raw whole almonds ½ cup flaked almonds ½ cup pepita seeds ½ cup sunflower seeds ½ cup pine nuts ½ cup desiccated coconut 2 heaped tbsps. organic coconut oil 2 heaped tbsps. honey or agave nectar

1.Preheat oven to 150 degrees and line two baking trays with baking paper or alfoil. 2.Place oats, desiccated coconut, nuts and seeds into a large mixing bowl. 3.In a small microwave safe bowl scoop in both coconut oil and honey and place in microwave for 1 minute (be mindful the bowl may be hot when removing).  Stir until all coconut oil is melted. 4.Pour melted mixture into the oat/nut/seed mix and stir through gently with either a wooden spoon or large tablespoon. 5.Pour mixture out evenly onto both trays, ensuring that the trays aren’t piled too high with mixture.  Spread to the corners and then place into oven for 35-40 mins or until mixture turns a nice golden brown. 6.Remove from oven and place trays on wire rack until the mixture is cooled completely (this will take approximately 1-2 hours).
7.Once cooled break apart and place in an air tight container.

Baked Oatmeal                                      Serves 10
2 bananas
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp. slivered almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp. firmly pack brown sugar 1 egg 2 cups milk of your choice
1 tsp vanilla essence
yoghurt to serve

1.Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and grease a baking dish with a little butter or cooking oil spray.
2.Slice banana and place on bottom the baking dish with half the blueberries. 3.In a separate bowl combine the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, 2 tbsp. of almonds and the remainder of the blueberries. Stir gently to combine. 4.Place the dry oat mixture on top of the bananas in the baking dish.
5.Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla essence together in a bowl and pour evenly over oats. Wiggle the baking dish a little to let the milk mixture settle through the oats 6. Place the remainder of the almonds on top and bake for 35-40 mins.
7.Serve with yoghurt.

Quinoa porridge                                                      Serves 4
1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained 1.5 cups milk of your choice 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped 1/3 cup dried cranberries 1/3 cup pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
1 cup Greek yoghurt

1.Combine quinoa and 4 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat.Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer,covered for 10 mins. 2.Stir in milk and fruit. 3.Serve topped with pistachios and a large dollop (1/4 cup) of yoghurt.

Mango & Passionfruit Smoothie               Serves 2
1 large Mango, flesh removed and chopped or 1 cup frozen mango
200g passionfruit yoghurt 1 cup milk of your choice 1 passionfruit, pulp removed Ice cubes

1.Place all ingredients in the blender and mix.

 Berry Breakfast Smoothie                                 Serves 2
1 cup milk of your choice 1 punnet strawberries, hulled and chopped 2 tsp tahini 2 tsp almond meal 2 tsp psyllium husk 2 tsp honey 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1.Place all ingredients in the blender and mix.

 Breakfast in a Glass                        Serves 2
1 cup milk of your choice 1 egg 1 small banana, peeled & coarsely chopped
½ punnet strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 passionfruit, pulp removed 1 tbsp. almond meal 2 tbsp. oat bran 2 tsp honey or maple syrup ½ tsp ground nutmeg

1.Place all ingredients in the blender and mix. Add some water or extra milk if too thick.

Breakfast Smoothie Serves 1
1/2 cup yoghurt of your choice 1/2 cup milk of your choice 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped 1 small banana or handful of berries 1 teaspoon honey or syrup 1 dessertspoon rolled oats 2 teaspoons seeds eg chia Or LSA Ice

1.Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Green Smoothie Serves 2
3-4 kale leaves (stalks removed) or 1 cup spinach leaves
1 celery stalk 1/2 small cucumber, peeled Fresh Italian parsley Mint leaves Fresh turmeric or ginger (fingernail sized nob) 1 small green apple 1 ripe kiwifruit, peeled or chopped mango cheek 250ml coconut water 1/2 small peeled beetroot (optional) Ice

1.Blend together on high for up to a minute and drink asap
(NB you can use a variety of vegetables (carrot, broccoli etc), seasonal fruit (pineapple, pear, oranges, berries) & herbs e.g. basil etc.)
Protein Power Smoothie Serves 1
1 banana or 1cup berries 2 tablespoons vanilla or chocolate flavoured protein powder 2 tablespoons yoghurt of your choice 200ml milk of your choice 1 teaspoon honey/syrup if desired Ice

1.Blend together

Caprese Toast                                                      Serves 4
4 slices soy & linseed (or grain) toast 80g ricotta cheese, crumbled 3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced 1 avocado, thinly sliced 1/3 cup small fresh basil leaves 8 poached eggs

1.Cut the toast in half diagonally.  Top with slices of avocado and tomato, crumble over ricotta.  Top with poached eggs and scatter with basil leaves.

Breakfast McMuffin                                                  Serves 4
4 wholemeal or grain English muffins, halved
120g shaved leg ham 4 eggs 4 slices tasty cheese

1.Heat a non-stick pan with a little spray oil. Add ham and cook for 1-2 mins each side, or until warm. Remove and keep warm
2. Cook eggs in the same pan until cooked to your liking.
3.Toast muffin halves and immediately top with cheese slice. Top with warm ham and an egg.  Place remaining English muffin half on top and serve.

Spiced Banana Bread                                    Serves 10
2 cups wholemeal flour ¾ cup brown sugar ½ cup whole oats 1 cup pepita, sunflower, chai seeds, or chopped walnuts mix
¼ cup dried cranberries 1 tsp cinnamon ¼ tsp salt 3 large bananas, mashed ¾ cup natural Greek yoghurt ¾ tsp bi-carb soda ½ cup apple sauce 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 180 degree or 165 degree fan forced.
2.Line the base of a large loaf tin (25cm x 10cm) with baking paper and set aside 3.In a large bowl place flour, oats, sugar, ¾ cup of the seed/nut mix, cranberries, cinnamon, salt and stir well.
4.In another small bowl place apple sauce and bi-carb soda (will froth up). Add mashed bananas, Greek yoghurt, eggs and vanilla to apple sauce mixture and mix well. 5.Pour liquid mixture into flour and stir only until they are just combined.
6.Pour into lined loaf tray and sprinkle with remaining seed/nut mix on top. 7.Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Malted Walnut Seed Loaf                                 Serves 12
500g strong wholegrain flour 1 tsp salt Up to 350ml lukewarm water a little sunflower oil, for greasing 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast 100g mixed seeds (e.g. linseed, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chai)
50g Walnut pieces

1.Making of the dough:  Place flour, yeast, and salt into a large bowl, making a well in the middle.  Pour in most of the water and use your fingers or a wooden spoon to mix the flour and water together.  Combine until a slightly wet, pillowy, workable dough.
2.Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Throughout the kneading process add in most of the seeds and nuts until all combined.
3.Leave to rise in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave until double the size.  Knock back the dough and shape into a large oval.  Roll the oval dough into the remaining seeds then place onto tray to prove (rest) for about 30 mins until it doubles in size.
4.Heat oven to 200 degrees (220 fan forced).  Bake bread for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 170 degrees (190 fan forced) and continue to bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Leave the bread on a cooling rack to cool completely. The loaf will stay fresh for ~3 days in an air tight container or can be frozen for up to a month. Ideal toppings:  Spread some goats cheese and fresh berries with a small drizzle honey; Low fat ricotta cheese with sliced pear; Poached eggs with smashed avocado and feta.

Wholemeal Banana and Flaxseed pancakes                       Serves 3-4
100g wholemeal self-raising flour 1 tsp flaxseeds 1 egg 100ml milk of your choice 2 small bananas, sliced 2 tsp rapeseed oil 4 tsp honey 4 strawberries, quartered

1.Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and then stir in the flaxseeds.
2.Whisk the eggs and milk together in a jug.  Make a well in the centre of the flour/flaxseed mixture and add the egg/milk. Using a whisk, gently move the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until smooth. Add the sliced banana and mix. 3.Heat half the rapeseed oil in a large pan over a medium heat and pour 2 tablespoons of the pancake mixture at a time. Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom and you see the pancake puff up. Flip and cook for a further 1-2 mins. 4.Remove from the pan and keep warm (can be put into oven on very low heat) until the remainder of the mixture is used.
5.Serve pancakes drizzled with honey (or maple syrup) and scatter the strawberries over the top.