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Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte

Print version ISSN 1517-8692On-line version ISSN 1806-9940


PASTRE, Carlos Marcelo et al. Post-exercise recovery methods: a systematic review. Rev Bras Med Esporte [online]. 2009, vol.15, n.2, pp.138-144. ISSN 1517-8692.

The post-exercise recovery consists in restoring the body systems to baseline condition, providing balance and preventing injuries installation and, in that sense; it becomes an important aspect of every fitness program, at any levels of performance, but especially in higher levels. The objective of this review was to gather information and to describe the responses provided by post-exercise recovery methods, such as cryotherapy, contrast water immersion, massage and active recovery, providing an update on this issue. MedLine, Scielo and Lilacs databases were used, as well as the SportsDiscus list of journals. Only randomized controlled and non-controlled clinical essays, in addition to review articles concerning the proposed topic were included. Our choice was for the search terms: cryotherapy, massage, active recovery, thermotherapy, immersion and exercise, individually and combined. It was observed that some studies report that cryotherapy is harmful concerning post-exercise recovery, once it reduces performance immediately after the technique application. On the other hand, studies point it as being beneficial due to its reduction in the creatine kinase level after exercise, avoiding hence muscle damage. Concerning contrast water immersion, although it presents significance when it comes to blood lactate removal, its effectiveness needs to be better discussed. Regarding massage and active recovery, the main described biases relate to the pressure and intensity of the exercise, respectively. Among the techniques, contrast water immersion and active recovery seem to have similar effects concerning lactate removal and creatine kinase decrease. It is highlighted that the exposure time is crucial for all methods. However, several studies do not try to identify the real physiological effects promoted by the techniques, having them in limited use. Therefore, the inconsistency of the results found suggests that the assessed variables used as a recovery method should be better controlled.

Keywords : cryotherapy; massage; recovery of physiological function; immersion.

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