Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group, LLC Blog

Recovery Techniques for Athletes

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 09:02 AM




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High performance sport and the importance of successful performances have led athletes and coaches to continually seek any advantage or edge that may improve performance. It follows that the rate and quality of recovery is extremely important for the high performance athlete and that optimal recovery may provide numerous benefits during repetitive high-level training and competition. Therefore, investigating different recovery interventions and their effect on fatigue, muscle injury, recovery and performance is important.


Recovery aims to restore physiological and psychological processes, so that the athlete can compete or train again at an appropriate level. Recovery from training and competition is complex and involves numerous factors. It is also typically dependent on the nature of the exercise performed and any other outside stressors that the athlete may be exposed to. Athletic performance is affected by numerous factors and therefore, adequate recovery should also consider such factors (Table 1).



There are a number of popular methods used by athletes to enhance recovery. Their use will depend on the type of activity performed, the time until the next training session or event, and equipment and/or personnel available. Some of the most popular recovery techniques for athletes include:

  • hydrotherapy,
  • active recovery,
  • stretching,
  • compression garments,
  • massage,
  • sleep and
  • nutrition.




Although the function of sleep is not fully understood, it is generally accepted that it serves to recover from previous wakefulness and/or prepare for functioning in the subsequent wake period.  An individual’s recent sleep history therefore has a marked impact on their daytime functioning. Restricting sleep to less than 6 hours per night for four or more consecutive nights has been shown to impair cognitive performance and mood, disturb glucose metabolism, appetite regulation and immune function.  This type of evidence has led to the recommendation that adults should obtain 8 hours of sleep per night.


While there are considerable data available related to the amount of sleep obtained by adults in the general population, there are few published data related to the amount of sleep obtained by elite athletes. 


Sleep deprivation

There are a limited number of studies which have examined the effects of sleep deprivation on athletic performance.  From the available data it appears that several phenomena exist.  Firstly, the sleep deprivation must be greater than 30 hours (one complete night of no sleep and remaining awake into the afternoon) to have an impact on anaerobic performance (Skein et al., 2011). Secondly, aerobic performance may be decreased after only 24 hours (Oliver et al, 2009) and thirdly, sustained or repeated bouts of exercise are affected to a greater degree than one-off maximal efforts.


The mechanism behind the reduced performance following prolonged sustained sleep deprivation is not clear, however it has been suggested that an increased perception of effort is one potential cause. While the above studies provide some insight into the relationship between sleep deprivation and performance, most athletes are more likely to experience acute bouts of partial sleep deprivation where sleep is reduced for several hours on consecutive nights.


Partial sleep deprivation

Only a small number of studies have examined the effect of partial sleep deprivation on athletic performance.  From the available research it appears that sub-maximal prolonged tasks may be more affected than maximal efforts particularly after the first two nights of partial sleep deprivation (Reilly et al, 1994).


Effects of sleep extension and napping

Another means of examining the effect of sleep on performance is to extend the amount of sleep an athlete receives and determine the effects on subsequent performance. Information from the small number of studies suggests that increasing the amount of sleep an athlete receives may significantly enhance performance.


Athletes suffering from some degree of sleep loss may benefit from a brief nap, particularly if a training session is to be completed in the afternoon or evening.  Naps can markedly reduce sleepiness and can be beneficial when learning skills, strategy or tactics in sleep deprived individuals. Napping may be beneficial for athletes who have to routinely wake early for training or competition and for athletes who are experiencing sleep deprivation.


Habitual sleep duration

According to a 2005 Gallup Poll in the USA, the average self-reported sleep duration of healthy individuals is 6.8 hours on weekdays and 7.4 hours on weekends (National Sleep Foundation, 2006). However, the sleep habits of elite athletes have only recently been investigated. Leeder et al (2012) compared the sleep habits of 47 elite athletes from Olympic sports using actigraphy over a 4-day period to that of age and gender-matched non-sporting controls. The athlete group had a total time in bed of 8:36 hour:minutes, compared to 8:07 in the control group. Despite the longer time in bed, the athlete group had a longer sleep latency (time to fall asleep) (18.2 minutes vs 5.0 minutes), a lower sleep efficiency (estimate of sleep quality) than controls (80.6 vs 88.7%), resulting in a similar time asleep (6:55 vs 7:11 hour:minutes). The results demonstrated that while athletes had a comparable quantity of sleep to controls, significant differences were observed in the quality of sleep between the two groups (Leeder et al, 2012).


While the above data was obtained during a period of normal training without competition, athletes may experience disturbed sleep prior to important competition or games. Erlacher et al. (2011) administered a questionnaire to 632 German athletes to assess possible sleep disturbances prior to competition. Of these athletes, 66% (416) reported that they slept worse than normal at least once prior to an important competition. Of these 416 athletes, 80% reported problems falling asleep, 43% reported waking up early in the morning and 32% reported waking up at night. Factors such as thoughts about competition (77%), nervousness about competition (60%), unusual surroundings (29%) and noise in the room (17%) were identified as reasons for poor sleep (Erlacher et al, 2011).


Register TODAY for the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar before seats fill up.



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Topics: Charlie Weingroff, Eric Oetter, BSMPG Summer Seminar, Derek Hansen, Al Smith, Erik Helland

2015 CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting - WINNING

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

BSMPG is proud to announce both MIKE BOYLE and ERIK HELLAND as speakers at the 2015 CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting - Sunday May 17th, 2015 - Fenway Park.

Join the leaders in Sports Medicine and Performance Training for this one day event following the 2015 BSMPG Summer Seminar - May 15-16th, 2015.  Inquire at - serious thought leaders only!


Mission of the CATAPULT Performance Directors Meeting: To provide the leaders in performance training and medical oversight an opportunity to engage with leaders of similar attitude, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit, while pursuing innovative strategies in performance methodology. 

This is a limited capacity event and will be held to 50 of the top thought and change leaders from across the globe.


boyle1 red sox


Topic: Worst to First - Developing a Culture of Winning

Michael Boyle is known internationally for his pioneering work in the field of Strength & Conditioning and is regarded as one of the top experts in the area for Sports Performance Training. He has made his mark on the industry over the past 30 years with an impressive following of professional athletes, from the US Women’s Olympic teams in Soccer and Ice Hockey to the Boston BruinsBoston Breakers, New England Revolution, and most recently the Boston Red Sox. His client list over the years reads like a Who’s Who of athletic success in New England and across the country including legendary Boston names such as Nomar Garciaparra, Cam Neely, and Ray Bourque. 

 In 2012, Michael was selected to become part of the Boston Red Sox coaching staff, acting as a strength and conditioning consultant for the team. 


Erik Helland bsmpg


Topic: Sustaining a Championship Mindset

Erik Helland enters his second year as Wisconsin's men's basketball strength and conditioning coach in 2014-15. In his first season, the Badgers posted the third, 30-win season in school history advancing to the 2014 Final Four.

Helland, who has served on the Chicago Bulls strength and conditioning staff since 1988 and the head strength coach since 2001, has over two decades of experience as a certified National Strength and Conditioning specialist and level I USA Weightlifting coach.

Helland's tenure with the Bulls included six NBA championships, including a pair of three-peats, and an NBA record 72 regular-season wins in 1995-96.

Following 13 seasons as an assistant, Helland took over the reins of the strength program in 2001, where his duties included conducting some of the most comprehensive testing protocols in the NBA, assisting in pre-NBA Draft workouts and NBA free agent assessments.

Helland has consulted with numerous college and professional strength and conditioning programs, and has worked extensively with athletes from the NFL and European Basketball Leagues, as well as professional, collegiate and high school athletes from nearly every sport.

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Topics: Mike Boyle, Erik Helland