Soccer is a high-intensity sport that can take a lot out of players, especially when playing a big game. As an athlete, you must follow the proper steps to care for your body after a grueling match. If you are a soccer player and are looking for ways to cope with the muscle aches that follow a game, keep reading. Here are a few tips you can follow after the final whistle to encourage your legs to recover much more quickly.

Eat a Healthy Meal

Because soccer requires such a high level of cardio endurance, your muscles will be pushed to their limit. It is essential to refuel your body with a healthy meal after a strenuous workout. Waiting too long to eat can deteriorate your muscles further and slow your recovery time. That said, it is a smart idea to have your protein powder handy after you finish your game so that you can start the healing process right away. Your nutrition is a key ingredient in how you perform and how quickly you can bounce back. The following ideas are good options for a post-game meal:

  • Lean protein (like chicken or pork) with a side of veggies and a sweet potato
  • Spaghetti with ground turkey
  • Chicken Alfredo with broccoli

Take an Ice Bath

There are many benefits of getting in an ice bath after a long week of practice or an intense game. Taking an ice bath might be more painful than playing the game you love, but it will get you ready for the next team quicker than anything else. Similar to icing a leg injury, soaking in cold water helps to diminish swelling and cope with soreness, so you are back to feeling rejuvenated in no time. The good news is, you only have to endure the chill for ten minutes or so to get the full effect. Soccer can take a lot out of your body— an ice bath helps promote the healing you need to feel fresh again.

Drink Plenty of Water

Be sure you are drinking plenty of water and electrolytes before and after your big game. Sports diminish your body’s water supply because it tries to keep you cool by sweating. For your legs to recuperate, you have to be hydrated and get adequate rest before another workout. Without enough water, you are more susceptible to injury and will fatigue much more quickly. You will be doing yourself a big favor if you start the hydration process before your match to avoid falling behind. You want to stay away from any sports drinks that are high in sugar, but there are options other than water that will do the trick.

Let Your Body Rest

Overusing your muscles will weaken the tissue and put you at a much higher risk of serious injury. When your body undergoes stress, tiny tears form in the fibers of your muscles, meaning you need to give your body as much rest as possible before you lace up your cleats and hit the field again. Taking a short walk or doing a slow recovery ride on a bike can help get the blood circulating to your sore muscles, but you still want to take it easy. Stretching can also be a useful component of your routine that will loosen any tight spots and have you ready to take on your next challenge.

Even though it may be hard to believe, how you care for your body after a tough game will correlate into how well you play in the next one. If you don’t take the proper steps to recover, you may feel a little sluggish by half time. Because soccer players are in such good shape, it can be easy for you to ignore your aches and pains you feel after playing tough competition. Still, it is crucial to listen to your body and make adjustments to your rehabilitation as needed.