Recovery – a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
After training or gameday, it’s important to assist our bodies in recovering well, setting us up to be able to perform at an optimum level; week after week, match after match, without undue fatigue. If you don’t recover well, it may leave you under powered, riddled with aches and pains, and could lead to injuries and a feeling of being over fatigued.
Using effective methods of recovery will assist your athletic and football performance, which ultimately leads to success on the pitch.
What is Recovery?
Recovery is the process we go through to return our bodies to their optimal level, before we undertake another training session or game.
During training and matches our body is overloaded, challenged and pushed to its limits, which is great for improving our athletic performance. But, by doing this we also create muscle soreness, fatigue, psychological fatigue and depleted energy sources. To maximise the positive effects of training and performances on the field, players need sufficient time to recover from one training session or game before the next one.
The recovery period is essential in maintaining a players’ physical and psychological well-being. If there is insufficient time or opportunity to recover, you may begin the next training session or match tired and low on energy, which can lead to injury or poor performance.
Your recovery time and methods are dependent on:
- The level or grade of the game/match
- The intensity and duration of the game
- Situation – weekly match play or week long tournament
- Your injury status
How do you know what works for you / your team?
The best idea is to test them out. Try the various methods of recovery and see what works best for you / your team, taking into consideration; equipment, time and the most important how your muscles and body are left feeling afterward (incl. the next day).
Refuelling: Restore energy within the body, with the right foods and quantities at the right time.
Injury Assessment: All injuries should be assessed by a medical professional to ascertain the degree of severity of the injury and to ensure a good rehabilitation process.
Hot & Cold Treatments: Used to inhibit blood flow to the muscles and any areas of injury, then encourage blood circulation and therefore assisting in a faster more efficient recovery, great for the legs and lower body.
Massage: Used to remove muscle aches and pains and relieve muscular tension, encourage increased circulation for waste product removal.
Injury Rehabilitation: Rest, followed by specific strengthening and stabilising exercises, recommended for your particular injury. This will help encourage increased stability and strength within a joint or injured area, assisting with a faster and better recovery and return to the field.
Nutrition: Have a good itemised nutritional plan, building up to game day, post-match, or for a tournament.
Pool / Hydro Recovery: A no impact, low intensity therapeutic method of relaxing the muscles and relieving muscular stress and tension without impact upon the joints. Can include stretching within the water.
Compression Clothing: Predominantly these will assist with circulation and therefore waste product removal and maintaining muscle temperature.
When talking recovery, timing is everything. Make sure that as soon as you have finished your game or training that you move straight into your recovery routine, starting with a good cool down.
Once you have established a recovery routine that works for you, stick with it, this will ensure adequate and best practice recovery, post trainings, games and during tournaments. Your mood, resting heart rate, any muscular aches and pains, heaviness in the muscles (specifically legs) or lethargy will depict if your recovery has been adequate enough for the amount of activity sustained.