Why is recovery important?
After playing an intense soccer game, it is often easy to forget about recovery. Long after you are off the field, your body is still absorbing the impacts of the game. Knowing how to take care of your body is essential to keeping your performance on par. Here are seven of the best tips to help you recover after a soccer game.
Building in recovery time after a soccer game is important because the body needs to replenish energy and repair damaged tissues. If your body is not fully recovered then you will not be ready to perform to your maximum capability. For example, lactic acid builds up in your muscles as you run around the field (lactic acid is responsible for making your muscles feel sore). If this if not properly taken care of it can create injuries.
Muscles recover the fastest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons and ligaments, on the other hand, recover slower because they receive indirect blood flow. Because of this phenomenon, it is difficult to determine whether your tendons and ligaments have recovered properly.
These seven tips help recover your muscles, tendons, and ligaments so that you mitigate the risk of injury. You don’t have to follow all seven every time; just choose which ones are applicable to you in the moment.
1. Take an ice bath
The purpose of an ice bath is to reduce swelling and decrease inflammation of your joints, muscles, tendons, and bones. After a hard session or game, those that take an ice bath recover quicker.
You want to spend about 15 minutes in an ice bath to get the benefits. If you find it difficult to jump into a tub full of ice, try getting in first and adding in the ice second. Make sure your hips and legs are submerged.
2. Practice yoga
Yoga helps to loosen your muscles and release the toxins from your body. While playing soccer, lactic acid builds up in your body. When you do yoga, it breaks apart all the unnecessary build-up of chemicals in your muscles.
Additionally, flexibility is a huge asset as a soccer player. You will increase your mobility so you can perform more moves, and you will decrease the chances of getting injured.
Try out the Fitivity Yoga app for guided workouts and exercises:
Note: Yoga can be done every day, but these programs are designed two days per week.
3. Go for a light jog as a cool-down run
Another way to release lactic acid is to go for a light jog. Over time, the lactic acid builds up, your muscles swell, and they feel overworked. Light running releases the lactic acid from your muscles and spreads it throughout your body. You want to go for a run as immediately as possible after a game so to prevent the lactic acid from building and swelling in your muscles.
4. Eat Carbs after a game
Carbs have gained a bad rep among some health-conscienciuos people, but they are essential for replenishing your body after a game. When you run around you burn a lot of glycogen – which is the energy for your muscles. In order to replenish lost glycogen, you need to eat carbs.
That’s not to say you should only eat carbs. However, you should make an effort to incorporate at least some carbs into your diet.
5. Add a little salt to your water
During games, you sweat a lot more than normal. While salt water can be dehydrating, it is essential to have enough salt in your body to have a proper balance. Either make sure to eat something salty or drink a bit of salted water to help your body absorb the water and replenish sweat. This recovery process is great if you are hydrating but not eating enough salt.
6. Heat and compression
Heat and compression have similar benefits to an ice bath in terms of helping out your joints and muscles loosen up. Keeping your muscles and joints loose is important because stiffness leads to injury. Just 15 minutes with heat and compression can have a positive effect.
Stretching keeps your muscles active in a good way. After your muscles are overworked from a game, they naturally want to stay active because they are so pumped up. By stretching, you are easing them out of the intense work instead of just stopping all together. If you just stop and don’t stretch afterwards, your body will become stiff and your risk of injury will increase.
Try out the Fitivity Sport Flexibility & Stretching app for guided workouts and exercises: