Going through a proper recovery period after a game is crucial to staying injury free and maintaining a high level of performance throughout a season. In the video above, US Women's National Team player, Allie Long, brings us through an average recovery day for a professional player.
The recovery period begins right when the game ends, and it's important to start the process right away. This includes an adequate cool-down after playing which usually consists of light jogging and a stretching routine. It's important to rehydrate the body after this period and maintain a nutritional diet that will aid in recovery. Less carbohydrates should be included in the diet during rest days and more proteins that aid in muscle repair should be ingested.
The recovery day is not a total rest day. It's important to keep the muscles active, but with exercises that provide contrast to soccer-specific movements such as biking, yoga, hydro therapy in the pool or a variety of stretching techniques. Rotating between warm and cold ice baths will help the muscles to recover, and proper stretching routines will get the blood flowing to the tissue and aid in muscle repair. Massages can help to flush out the waste products from the muscles after performance, and maintain muscle elasticity to prevent tears.
Header image courtesy of Nike Academy.