Slower Pace or Rest Between Races?

If you compete in sports that require repeated short bursts of very fast running, such as in basketball, soccer, or football, will you recover faster by standing still or by continuing to move at a slower pace? A study from Brooklyn College in New York showed that it doesn’t make any difference (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, February 2006). Researchers asked fit athletes to perform multiple bouts of exercising to exhaustion. Between the bouts of vigorous exercise, one group spent 12 minutes staying completely still, while the other group continued to exercise at less than 20 percent of their maximum workload. Athletes in both groups showed equal recoveries and performances.

However, those who stayed still between all-out efforts had blood that was more acidic than those who continued to exercise. Many athletes believe that lactic acid buildup in muscles hinders their performance, but this study shows that blood acidity has little to do with recovery from hard exercise. When you exercise so intensely that you cannot get all the oxygen you need, lactic acid starts to accumulate in your muscles and spills out into your bloodstream to make your blood more acidic. This can make your muscles burn and hurt, but it will not delay your recovery for your next bout of all-out effort.

Checked 9/29/08

Get our newsletter