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Acute recovery from anaerobic work is vital in preparing the body for subsequent work bouts; however, there is no consensus on the optimal recovery position for heart rate (HR) or blood lactate (BL) metabolism. PURPOSE: To determine the most effective post exercise position for optimal recovery from anaerobic work. METHODS: Nine collegiate sprinters participated in the study (3 males, 6 females; age: 19.4 ± 1.2 yrs, height: 161.9 ± 8.4 cm, weight: 65.7 ± 8.3 kg). All participants completed a standard ten-minute dynamic warmup and a maximal effort 200-m sprint with an assigned two-minute recovery position (hands on head (HH), hands on knees (HK), and walking (W)) on three separate testing sessions. HR and BL were measured immediately following the sprint, and after the 2-minute recovery interval using a HR monitor and BL analyzer. Subjective ratings on the most effective recovery position were also obtained after all conditions were tested. A repeated measures ANOVA was used to investigate recovery HR and BL across the three conditions, and pairwise comparisons were conducted using a Tukey’s post hoc test. RESULTS: The average HR post-sprint was 181.2 ± 11.8 bpm and post recovery was 89.1 ± 59.7 bpm. The HH recovery position resulted in the greatest decrease in HR (F(2,16) = 5.447, p = 0.016; average change in HH HR 51.1 ± 17.9 bpm) and was statistically different from the HK recovery position (p = 0.022). The average BL post sprint was 6.8 ± 3.2 mmol/L and the average BL post recovery was 10.1 ± 3.1 mmol/L. There was no significant difference in BL concentrations across the conditions. Fifty-six percent of the participants subjectively rated the W condition as most effective in recovery, based on perceived decreased HR and breathing rate. CONCLUSION: HH resulted in a greater reduction in HR than either HK or W. This finding does not support previous research that reported HK more effective in HR recovery (Bottoms, 2016). Perhaps the best recovery position depends on individual factors, and coaches/trainers should allow athletes to self-select the preferred position. A limitation of this study was the uncontrollable environmental factors, such as variable temperature; however, this variability is a representation of the sprinters training environment. Future research should include additional recovery measurements after an extended duration (>1 hour) to monitor the decrease of BL, and respiratory recovery measurements because individuals subjectively rate recovery based on their perception of respiratory patterns.

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