5 Techniques For Recovery From Triathlons

By Nathan Koch, PT, ATC | TriathleteCompetitor.com

When it comes to recovery, timing is critical. Here’s a sampling of some of the best techniques and the ideal time to use them.


A recent Australian study found that athletes can improve their performance in 30 minutes of high-intensity cycling by wearing compression clothing. Choose graduated gear (highest pressure at the ankle), avoid cheap material (nylon and elastane), always air dry and avoid “medical-grade,” as it may actually inhibit blood flow.

Time it right: Timing is not fully understood, although general guidelines include always on flights and long car rides, immediately after hard efforts and when sitting (desk job) or standing (on-feet job) for extended periods of time.

Ice Bath

Used since the triathalosarus days, cold-water immersion is cheap and can reduce immediate soreness. All you need is a tub and ice or a cold river/lake and a thermometer (approximately 55 degrees F).

Time it right: It may be ideal to use compression immediately after exercise and then ice three hours after exercise for 10–15 minutes to allow normal protein synthesis to occur. It’s possible that even though ice may reduce immediate muscle pain/soreness, it may inhibit overall recovery if used too early after effort.


A foam roller, ball, PVC pipe, etc., can bring legs back to homeostasis. If you address adhesions or knots in the soft tissue on a regular basis, it can be extremely beneficial as both a recovery tool and an injury-prevention technique.

Time it right: The best time for a massage is three hours or longer after a race or hard effort. A 2009 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that massage immediately after intense effort inhibited the body’s ability to remove lactate from muscle.

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