Recovery is the key to unlocking peak performance, preventing injuries, and having a long, fruitful career. An elite football season is long and packed with draining matches and intense exercise sessions that are quite physically taxing.

During certain periods, the schedule is so congested that recovery time becomes minimal. Consequently, you may find that your body simply refuses to cooperate. Well, it does not have to be that way: the sooner you recover, the sooner you will be able to get back to your full swing again.

A game plan

Believe it or not, a single match is enough to cause acute and chronic fatigue, decrease performance, and reduce bodily functions. These problems weigh players down, decreasing distance covered, maximal sprint, jump height, and tackles attempted. Likewise, considering the huge impact on low soft tissue, the chances of suffering an injury are relatively high.

To avoid these pitfalls, build a rock-solid recovery plan based on weekly schedules. There are some tried-and-tested models, such as Tactical Periodization, you can rely on. In a nutshell, there always need to be periods of adaptation and recovery in between matches and intense training. Every gain you accomplish actually happens in these stretches of time.

Tools of the trade

The first physical component of recovery is the cool-down period and the reduction of intensity. In this active recovery stage, whole-body static stretching is utilized, while PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is applied to major, at-risk muscle groups. So, right off the bat, you get a chance to decrease muscle soreness, improve your range of motion, and safeguard against injuries.

Of course, professional soccer players have a variety of other recovery strategies at their disposal. For example, note that many clubs in England use cold water immersion and ice baths for the purpose of alleviating muscle soreness and inflammation. Some of them have hydro-therapy pools and cryotherapy facilities. The players usually stay in the water for 5 – 12 minutes at temperatures of 41 – 53 degrees.

Those who cannot afford these amenities can rely on other recovery tools, like compression shorts/leggings. In general, compression garments increase pressure to the joint and decrease inflammation. Foam rollers are also gaining traction across the soccer ecosystem. They have been proven to reduce pain and players can use them as self-massage tools.

Dieting for swift recovery

Furthermore, nutrition is paramount to successful post-work recovery, which is to say you need an optimal recovery diet. The goal is to replenish depleted muscle glycogen and protein deposits. This process involves a steady influx of meals that have high carbohydrate content (fruit smoothies, cereals, bagel, meatballs, pasta, etc.).

The muscles can be refueled within 24 hours of the workout, so there is no need to do it as soon as you finish exercising. Do it as soon as tolerable.

Also, note that what you eat before exercise has a role to play. For instance, consuming protein prior to weightlifting sessions is better than just shoving a protein drink down your throat afterwards. Your body digests this essential nutrient into amino-acids that spur muscle fiber rejuvenation.

Bear in mind that engineered recovery foods are often no more effective than standard, nutrient-rich foods. At the same time, do not make the mistake of consuming too much protein because it does not really refuel your muscles. Smart use of supplements can also make a difference. So, feel free to patch up nutrient gaps with reliable products, such as vitamins and supplements from Solgar UK.

Finally, remember that proper hydration is of the utmost importance and that one final piece of the puzzle you need comes in the form of sleep and rest. We will not go into detail here because most of the general rules apply. Between 7 and 8 hours is a sweet spot for most people. Nothing rejuvenates as well as getting a good night’s sleep, does it?

Step up the game

Recovery strategies are an integral part of modern sports science and practice. Recuperating your muscles is something that empowers you to get through all the physical trials and tribulations of a soccer career. Do not go overboard and avoid overtraining. You will feel less sore, prevent perilous injuries, maximize muscle gains, and be brimming with energy. Taking good care of your body like a champ is the only way to kick your game into overdrive.