5 Postgame Recovery Strategies for Soccer
What you do after a game is just as important as what you do before it. Your postgame activities and nutrition habits, if maximized, can help reduce aches and pains, speed recovery, and keep your body injury-free. Use the five tips below to recovery better.
1. Eat in 30.
Timing is essential to recovery. The sooner you eat a snack, the better you’ll be able to maximize your recovery. Aim to eat within 30 minutes of ending the game. If you can do it in 10 minutes, even better, says Denise Alvey, a performance nutritionist at EXOS. You’ll reduce soreness, replenish nutrients, and reduce your risk of injury.
2. Blend nutrients.
Alvey recommends planning your postgame meal with a blend of carbs and protein. This powerful combo will replace glycogen stores (carbs) and rebuild muscles (protein). A general rule of thumb for an endurance athlete is to consume 0.3 g of protein per kilogram of body weight and 1.2 g of carbs per kilogram of body weight. To determine your weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. For example, 190 / 2.2 = 86.4 kg x 0.3 = 25 g of protein. Repeat and multiply by 1.2 for carbs (103 g). Note: This is for a player who played the entire game.
3. Switch from hot to cold.
Janet Jin, a performance physical therapist at EXOS, recommends using a hot tub and cold plunge combo (or simply swapping between hot and cold water in the shower) immediately after a game to increase blood flow and promote muscle recovery. The hot water causes blood to rush away from your internal organs and to your skin, while the cold water rushes the blood away from your skin to keep your internal organs safe and warm. Finish with cold water to stimulate your nervous system, boost energy, and improve focus.
4. Chug it.
After a game, you’ll want to drink 20 ounces of water per pound of weight you lose during the game. Weigh in before and after games to get your numbers. Alvey recommends a sports drink that provides electrolytes (sodium is the most important) and carbohydrates (along with water) during the game and after the game, especially if you're a salty sweat (have a ring of white on your clothes when they dry).
5. Find time for active rest.
In the days after a game, take a break from any serious training and do soft tissue and flexibility work to loosen tight muscles, keep moving, and reduce your risk of injury. Jin recommends trying these recovery exercises:
- Rope Stretch – Straight Leg Hamstring
- Rope Stretch – Adductor
- Quad Hip Flexor Stretch – Sidelying AIS Football
- Foam Roll – Adductor
- Foam Roll – Hip Flexor
- Foam Roll – Lateral Quad
- Foam Roll – IT Band
- Foam Roll – Lower Back (QL)
- Foam Roll – Hamstring