The Recovery Between Recoveries - Kinesiology Tape
Muscle recovery isn’t just a phase; it’s a vital period for rejuvenation and is part of the formula for success. Maximizing training time and minimizing wait times comes down to how well our muscles recover between workouts. It is a matter of time.
Yet, if the time for recovery is lacking, muscle damage will prevent us from training or competing at our peak. While it is generally accepted that inflammation resulting from muscle damage is needed for repair and regeneration, there is scientific support that the process can be facilitated.
This is why many athletes, amateur or professional, seek first to understand muscle recovery and then one or more strategies to optimize or facilitate that recovery.
Why does Muscle Recovery take time?
Our muscles scream as we push further, yet afterwards, they recover in silence until, about a day or two later, they start humming with pain.
It is well known that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) peaks between 24 to 72 hours after strenuous and eccentric exercise. Alongside the pain, we may experience reduced strength and range of motion (ROM). In other words, it hurts to move.
Invisible to our eyes, an intramuscular inflammatory process and changes that support rejuvenation and muscle repair are already in motion. Several enzymes and proteins, such as creatine kinase (CK), flood the scene as our muscles embark on a journey to undergo an adaption and remodelling process.
The journey, however, can be shorter or longer depending on the intensity or duration of our workouts.
How does Training Intensity Influence Recovery?
The intensity of our workouts and training influences the time for recovery by altering the amount of metabolic stress, damaged muscle fibres and connective tissue. In short, break more, wait more.
An examination of several studies, as provided by a scientific review in the Journal of Applied Physiology, a 20% reduction in muscle strength immediately after exercise is usually restored within 2 days after exercise. Whereas much larger losses in muscle strength ∼50% after exercise, result in below pre-exercise values for at least one week (Peake, Neubauer, Gatta, & Nosaka, 2017).
An exercise bout set at 80% of maximum output, as shown for resistance training in women, takes ∼72 hours for strength to fully recover (Radaelli, Bottaro, Wilhelm, Wagner, & Pinto, 2012).
The metabolic stress, such as the buildup of metabolites, like lactate, or lack of oxygen, during exercise triggers cells to promote repair and remodelling. There appears to be a specific order and sequence of events, and the extent of damage and metabolites may influence the time course and duration of each. An early event is swelling.
Adopting a training regime which interchanges mild, moderate and severe bouts of exercise may be one strategy to avoid longer recovery periods.
Strategies to Facilitate Muscle Recovery
While DOMS equates to muscle pain and soreness, it provides a good marker for our intramuscular recovery. Measuring the amount of inflammatory agents, such as creatine kinase (CK), a biomarker for recovery, is much easier to do in the sports lab than in the gym. But, like pain, less is better.
There are several natural strategies for reducing DOMS and promoting muscle recovery, some with more or less scientific support, including:
- Kinesiology taping
- Icing or cooling
- Nutritional supplements & herbal remedies
Kinesiology Taping Reduces Soreness and More Post-Exercise
A popular choice amongst athletes is using kinesiology tape to reduce muscle soreness and tenderness in the days following exercise.
Wearing kinesiology tape during exercise can help with improved proprioception during performance (Dehghan, Fouladi, & Martin, 2023), for example, but continued wear can lead to additional recovery benefits.
Longer wear times of kinesiology tape, that is, 24 hours post-exercise, leads to lower reports of soreness and much more (Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2016). So, high-quality and durable tape will be important to achieve these effects.
As soreness is one proxy for muscle recovery, the same research team simultaneously investigated the levels of inflammatory markers, specifically creatine kinase (CK). Here, too, the levels of CK were much lower 96 hours later (Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2016).
Based on the study results, selecting a tape capable of being worn during training and again afterwards for at least 24 hours is ideal.
Wearing kinesiology tape can help with swelling by improving lymph drainage, as the tape creates more space between the epidermal-dermal skin (Kafa et al., 2015). Many athletes use Spidertech Pro-cuts during heavy training sessions and then, if needed replace with tape designed for sensitive skin on lighter training days.
Like anything worth achieving, small steps eventually lead to big accomplishments. You can take a small step towards maximizing your training time and minimizing your wait time by checking out how easy it can be to apply Spidertech here.
- Barreto, G., Loureiro, L. M. R., Reis, C. E. G., & Saunders, B. (2023). Effects of caffeine chewing gum supplementation on exercise performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Sport Science, 23(5), 714-725. doi:10.1080/17461391.2022.2049885
- Connolly, D. a. J., Sayers, S. E., & Mchugh, M. P. (2003). Treatment and prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 17(1), 197. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2003/02000/Treatment_and_Prevention_of_Delayed_Onset_Muscle.30.aspx
- Dehghan, F., Fouladi, R., & Martin, J. (2023). Kinesio taping in sports: A scoping review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2023.05.008
- Kafa, N., Citaker, S., Omeroglu, S., Peker, T., Coskun, N., & Diker, S. (2015). Effects of kinesiologic taping on epidermal–dermal distance, pain, edema and inflammation after experimentally induced soft tissue trauma. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 31(8), 556-561. doi:10.3109/09593985.2015.1062943
- Kim, J., Kim, S., & Lee, J. (2016). Longer application of kinesio taping would be beneficial for exercise-induced muscle damage. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 12(5), 456-462. doi:10.12965/jer.1632702.351
- Peake, J. M., Neubauer, O., Gatta, P. A. D., & Nosaka, K. (2017). Muscle damage and inflammation during recovery from exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 122(3), 559-570. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00971.2016