With the 2018 Commonwealth Games wrapping up on the Gold Coast, questions are being asked about how world-class athletes recover from competition and training and how they avoid injury.
Like thousands of other Australians, athletes choose to use natural therapies, to ease pain and aid recovery.
Acupuncture is used by many professional athletes as a safe and effective way to manage aches and pains. It’s a form of Chinese medicine, which involves inserting sterile, thin needles in to the skin.
These needles stimulate ‘acupuncture points’ on the body, which release natural painkilling endorphins that reduce swelling and increase blood flow.
Paralympian Madison de Rozario uses acupuncture to help relieve pain and stress from her muscles.
(Australian Paralympian Madison de Rozario after undergoing acupuncture. Sourced: Instagram)
Cupping is an ancient natural therapy where cups create a vacuum on a person’s skin to remove toxins, alleviate inflammation, and repair microtears of the muscle.
Athletes choose to use cupping as a method for increasing flexibility, which improves their performance and helps them to train longer and harder.
Gold medallist Benn Harradine and netballer April Brandley both use cupping as a way of healing injuries.
(Australian netballer April Brandley undergoing cupping. Sourced: Instagram)
(Australian discus medallist Benn Harradine after cupping therap. Sourced: Instagram)
Cryotherapy is a natural method where muscles are exposed to extreme cold for short periods of time. This is used to reduce the pooling of blood in the muscles and aid with delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS).
In a cryotherapy pod, most of the body (apart from the head) is exposed to below zero temperatures for up to three minutes. This cold blast helps improve nutrient and oxygen circulation throughout the body, increases metabolism and collagen production, massages muscle tissue and joints, reduces pain, helps remove toxins from skin, and promotes anti-inflammatory responses.
It’s a painless, non-invasive, and quick treatment to ease muscle soreness and fatigue.
Athletes, such as Australia’s Rugby 7’s captain Jesse Parahi and swimmer Cameron McEvoy, use this therapy in between training to help heal.
(Australian Swimmer Cameron McEvoy using cryotherapy. Sourced: Instagram)
(Australian Rugby 7’s Captain Jesse Parahi undergoing cryotherapy. Sourced: Instagram)
Float tanks use a dense Epsom salt water solution for the person to lie in or ‘float’ in. Floating is a highly-effective way to relax and relieve stress from the mind and the body.
Float tanks are particularly popular for long distance runners, cross fit athletes, MMA fighters, and yoga enthusiasts – but more and more athletes are choosing the float tank as part of their recovery.
Floating helps accelerate recovery time, increase energy, boost the immune system, reduce soreness of muscles, decrease lactic acid levels, and facilitate rest which improves athletes’ exposure to fatigue. The tanks are also an ideal space for visualisation and goal setting.
The Australian Instate of Sport (AIS) regards flotation tanks an integral part of an athlete’s training regime.
Beki Smith is a 2018 Commonwealth Games race walker. She uses a float tank for her recovery.
(Australian race walker Beki Smith using the float tank for recovery Sourced: Instagram)