The importance and protocol of recovery at local level is definitely insufficient, however to expect local athletes to recover at an elite level is impractical and unrealistic due to facilities, time and priorities. Therefore, this post will provide a brief education on practical recovery methods that can be followed by athletes from all levels of competition.
1. Active Recovery
Assists in metabolising lactate (removing lactic acid from the muscles), helps remove that sore, heavy feeling in your legs post match and/or training. This should commence directly after the match, commonly referred to as a “warm down”. An active recovery should include;
- Foam Rolling (SMR)
- Mobility Exercises
- 5-10 minutes of walking, slow jogging or swimming
Essential in replacing energy used during the game and repairing muscle fibres. Post competition athletes should ingest foods that are High-GI and high in protein, and should drink 1.5L of fluid (preferably high in sodium) for every kilo lost in competition. If it sounds too complicated, here is a basic guide on what to eat and drink post match;
- 250mL Up n Go or Protein Shake
- Chicken and Salad Roll
- Banana and/or handful of lollies
- 3L of water/PowerAde
3. Cold Water Immersion
For local athletes, this could be a beach session. Not only good for team vibes and banter, but a beach session post match (especially in cold water) reduces the severity of oedema (bruising/swelling) and reduces the perception of fatigue as you’re often feeling fresher. In simple terms to describe how this works; the cold water restricts blood vessels, and once exiting the water the blood vessels dilate creating a flush-like effect which increases the ridding of by-products and soreness. The most important factor however is that feeling post-beach session, as your perception of fatigue and recovery will be positive. The recommendation is 20-30 minutes in the icy cold water either ASAP after the match or the next morning.
Along with nutrition, sleep is the most important part of recovery. Sleep allows the muscles time to repair and regenerate, and also allows psychological recovery. Poor sleep has bee shown to detrimentally effect performance (get a good nights sleep before the game as well). It is recommended that 7-8 hours of sleep the night after the match is ideal for optimising muscle fibre re-synthesis and mental freshness.
Different recovery methods work for different people, and due to a variety of reasons recovery protocols are difficult to follow for the local-level athlete. However simple tasks that have limited barriers such as active recovery after the game, nutrition intake and sleep are factors that are highly controllable by the individual and therefore with little influence can be followed easily. It should also be noted that the perception of fatigue is a huge factor in recovery; so if you feel that having a bath instead of hitting the beach makes you feel fresher, continue to follow that method of recovery. Your mental perception of beneficial recovery plays a bigger role than you think!