Have you heard of the recovery pyramid?

The recovery pyramid is a visualisation that shows the importance and value in physical recovery modalities. If you have not seen the image, head over to our instagram now! The pyramid gives you a clear-cut picture on what you should be spending your time, effort and money on. In turn, the pyramid shows what should be of less importance.

After all, the quicker you recovery, the quicker you return to peak performance!

Over time research and science constantly evolves and changes. Evidently, so do beliefs, theory’s and “fads” that will help you physically recover in the most efficient and effective way. The recovery pyramid, supported by this blog gives you a clear, evidence based approach (for what we know as of 2022) to what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

How does the recovery pyramid it work?

Much like building a house, or the ancient pyramids, if you don’t have a stable foundation as a base, your roof will fall down and collapse. This rings true when it comes to the foundations of physical recovery.

The non-negotiables.

The most important aspects and foundation of recovery from physical activity are sleep, nutrition and hydration. If you are not getting these two things right consistently, there will be very little benefit of doing your extra “icing on the cake” recovery strategies.

It is well researched that 7-9 hours sleep each night enhances muscle recovery. This is through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. Not only is sleep important for muscle recovery, but even more importantly sufficient sleep allows for optimal brain and central nervous system function. After all, the central nervous system (CNS) controls all aspects of performance. The CNSis the “electrical current” in control of delivering messages around your body. If your central nervous system is tired and fatigued, so are you!

Nutrition is just as important as sleep, owning the role of refuelling and rehydrating the body. This promotes muscle repair and growth and boosts adaptions from your training session or competition. Your diet should be rich in quality carbohydrates to replenish muscle fuel stores. Your diet should contain lean protein to promote muscle repair. Additionally, your diet should include plenty of fluid and electrolytes to rehydrate effectively.

The icing on the cake.

Following sleep, nutrition and hydration comes hot and cold contrast water immersion. This is seen to be of next greatest benefit to physical recovery. Although the practice of ice baths has been around for a while now, research is becoming more and more supportive of this method. One of the biggest benefits of hot and cold immersion therapy is that it decrease DOMS. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness is the discomfort one feels after intense exercise. Contrast immersion is also believed to increase blood flow around the body. Evidently this is through the opening and closing of blood vessels (vasodilation and vasoconstriction). This is believed to aid in recovery by removing waste products from cells and increase the efficiency of the body’s natural healing process.

Following this, come our more subjective recovery methods. This means that these methods do not have the physiological effects that sleep, nutrition and hydration have. Alternatively, these bring more of a self-reported improvement to one’s recovery. This does not make these methods useless. As we know, one of the largest factors in performance is self-confidence, belief and feeling ready to perform. The type of recovery strategies that fit into this category include stretching, compression garments and soft tissue release which includes massage, foam rolling and trigger balling.

In short, trying to build a roof with massage guns and foam rollers without a strong foundation of sleep, nutrition and hydration will most likely end in collapse and poor recovery.