At Physio Performance, we completely understand that when you train or participate in sport, there’s always the risk of injury. However, we can help to reduce overuse injuries through proper recovery strategies. It’s important to know how to properly recover so you can get back to your sport as soon as possible. Here are some top ways to kickstart your post-match recovery. This is important as this process will get you back to feeling good and ready for the next session on the pitch!
The first thing you truly need to do after a match is to rehydrate. This means drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water or an electrolyte drink. You’ll need to replace all the fluids you lost during the match, as well as any that you sweated out. Rehydration is key to post-match recovery, so make sure you drink up!
After you’re properly hydrated, the next step is to eat a good meal. This will help replenish your energy stores and give your body the nutrients it needs to recover from the match. Aim for a meal that’s high in protein and carbohydrates, as well as healthy fats. A balanced meal like this will help your body repair any muscle damage and get you feeling back to normal in no time.
Mobility work is a mainstay in most strength and conditioning programmes for athletes in modern times. And while it may not seem as appealing or as fashionable as explosive movements or heavy strength work, it definitely has its place in terms of overall health and injury prevention.
Maintaining and increasing range of motion of the hips, ankles, knees, shoulders and back is important throughout a long and intense season. Mobility work allows you to utilise ranges of motion that may be very frequently used throughout training and games, as well as those that an athlete may very rarely be exposed to.
Fatigued muscles or muscle groups will commonly adopt a shortened position in the 48-72 hours post intense training or a match, this is as a result of the high demand placed on the muscle during activity. This will typically present as the tightness and achiness described by the athlete.
To aid in muscle recovery it can be beneficial to again gradually expose the muscle to its lengthened position. This gentle increase in muscle length will aid in recovery, increase blood flow to the muscle and aid with feelings of readiness for the next training session or match.
While rest is best after a tough training session or match, often it is active rest that will help the body to get ready again for the next session. For this reason mobility work is ideally suited to take the mantle of active recovery session.
It should go without saying that sleep is important for every living being. But throwing in an ambitious schedule of training/games and good regular sleep becomes crucial.
When you sleep, your body is in repair mode. A good night’s sleep plays its part in:
- increasing energy
- repairing and building muscle
- metabolising fat
- regulating hormones
- boosting immunity
- recovering from injuries
- removing waste products
How much sleep should you get? Everybody is different, but around 7 to 9 hours a night is generally agreed to be enough for most people. Anyone who has had a bad night’s sleep will know the effects it has on the following day. You feel lethargic and any desire to train hard or eat healthily usually goes out the window.
More concerningly, some studies have shown that having less than around 7 hours of sleep can negatively affect your performance – particularly your ability to focus, while also increasing inflammation in the body. As you may know, inflammation is rarely a good thing in the human body. Long story short, get more sleep.
It is best to think of sleeping as a skill. If you only sleep around 5 hours a night, it’s unlikely you will get those desired 8 hours just by chance – you have to work at it.
A good sleep routine underpins everything else. If you go to sleep at random times or always too late/too early, then your sleeping patterns will rightly feel a bit random. Instead, start to schedule your sleep into your day to ensure your body clock is ticking as it should. For example, you may want to plan to be in bed and ready to sleep at 11pm, then set an alarm for 7am. If you stick to set times every night, your body will adjust and begin to know when it’s time for bed and time to rise.
Your bedroom has to be conducive to good sleep. If possible, invest in a quality mattress and comfortable bedding that makes you feel supported and relaxed. Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Leave your phone or tablet outside your bedroom to avoid distractions, and aim to watch TV in another room if possible. It is best to keep your bedroom for sleeping, not late-night scrolling or flicking between the channels.
Easier said than done perhaps, but you should aim to put stress aside before bed to avoid a night of tossing and turning. Stop working, looking at emails and checking social media at least one hour before bed, and avoid stressful situations in the evening if possible.
The same goes for physical stress. Exercise in the day can help you feel ready for sleep come night time, but aim to do it at least three hours before bed. Also consider taking a warm bath or shower before bed to help your muscles relax.
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