Recovery – Too much of a good thing?

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There is a lot of literature on various forms of recovery, and a great number of different modalities that can be used to recover. Perhaps most well known are the dreaded ice-baths, where athletes submerge themselves in very cold water (usually about 5 degrees Celsius) for a certain time period, in order to dampen inflammation post-training. Then there are also the new compression garments, which are supposed to help recovery. Recovery nutrition is also a big field, with the discussion of antioxidants (substances which “mop-up” free-radicals, preventing muscle damage) playing a large role.

I am very interested in recovery. But some emerging research has got me thinking. Can we be too recovered? Adaptation to training requires the body to put under a great deal of stress- how the body deals with this stress then causes adaptation. By prematurely removing or reducing this stress, do we alter the adaptation response? Recently, I have been encouraged by my support staff to avoid antioxidants around training, and to reduce the number of ice baths that I have during a heavy training cycle, in order to hopefully increase adaptation.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a time and a place for maximal recovery. During the competition, and pre-competition period, I will have a great number of post-training ice baths, increase my antioxidant consumption, and wear compression garments. But in general training, I am taking a step away from this. What are your thoughts on this, and what are your optimal recovery tips?
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