The main aims for the athlete immediately after playing their favourite game should be:
- To effectively treat any injury sustained or any area of pain, stiffness and swelling that may signify an injury.
- To use as many cost-effective interventions that reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
- To refuel the body in a way that will allow a faster return to maximal cardiovascular and muscle performance.
So here goes 10 ways that you can best recover:
- RICED REGIME. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate and seek a Sports Physio’s diagnosis for any injury you may have sustained. Avoid drinking alcohol that may increase bleeding and inflammation of the injured site.
- If not injured, then MOVE YOUR BODY and STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES in a gentle, yet comprehensive way. The belief here is that it will reduce the amount of after-exercise pain (DOMS) that you will experience.
- Wear COMPRESSION garments immediately after finishing your game. These can assist in the removal of metabolic waste products from your muscles and can also reduce any swelling that collects around injury sites.
- Dip your body, or at least your legs, in an ICE BATH. This can have the effect of reducing inflammation and the perception of post exercise muscle pain. Many athletes state that they find an ice bath, or dip in the cool ocean, as being the difference between being able to train pain free after a game and not.
- Take a gentle “Flushing MASSAGE” after your game. Whilst there is no research to suggest it significantly aids recovery, there is great anecdotal support from elite athletes for its effectiveness in performance recovery.
- EAT energy restoring foods immediately after you play. This can be in the form of carbohydrate replacement and protein supplements. Many athletes and Sports Scientists advocate the consumption of fruits, like Bananas, as well as Protein Shakes after sport.
- DRINK plenty of water to rehydrate back to your pre-event weight. This Is particularly important in countries like Australia where heat related stress on athletes is often very high. Try a CHOCOLATE MILK to get the benefits of fluid, carbohydrate and protein replenishment.
- SLEEP well after sport. Whilst it is often difficult to sleep immediately after playing a sporting event, the latest scientific research points to the importance of getting a good, uninterrupted sleep the night after your event. Good sleep can promote muscle regeneration and feelings of well-being in athletes. This is a very under-recognised tool in the fight against injury and muscle soreness.
- RELAXATION after sport is also crucial. Enjoying a good movie on the couch or reading a book allows your mind to settle from the high intensity demands of a sporting contest. Mental recovery is also under-stated.
- Finally, it’s always good to AVOID things that will hurt your recovery. Avoid “going out” on the evening after your event. Avoid sitting for large amounts of time (long car drives) that can further tighten key muscle groups. Avoid eating high fat or fried foods. Limit your hot shower to a few minutes only of a warm shower cleanse and finally, mentally let go of your game as soon as you can and look forward to your next contest.
I hope this helps you all in your future sporting endeavours.
Sports and Olympic Physiotherapist
Founding Partner – Sports Focus Physiotherapy – Sydney