Professional athletes don’t waste much time focusing on the game they just played. Not only is there not enough time in the season, but doing so may also hurt their ability to prepare for the next game.
Recovery is essential for every athlete, as it’s the first step to success on game day. Here are six things that you can do to recover and why they matter.
1 – STRETCH QUICKLY
The first step toward minimizing the aches and pains of a grueling game is a good stretch after the fact. “People who stretch during cool down tend to have fewer complaints of muscle soreness and fewer injuries,” says Cleveland Clinic athletic trainer Amanda McMahan.
We recommend taking 5 to 10 minutes to help your body gradually transition to a resting or near-resting state.
2 – REFUEL IMMEDIATELY
You shouldn’t wait to replenish fluids and musclebuilding protein. The best time for muscles to recoup energy is within 30 to 60 minutes of the final whistle. We recommend a Six Star shake for a mix of protein and carbs in one hit, especially compared to many sports drinks, which are intended primarily for hydration and don’t contain any protein.
3 – GRAB THAT SLICE
In the big leagues, most locker rooms have a post-game spread of foods high in carbohydrates, like pizza.
Foods high in carbohydrates and protein will help replenish depleted energy sources, especially in the hours after a heavy workout.
4 – THE CHILL OF IT ALL
An ice bath can assist in supporting the recovery process by reducing inflammation and changing the way that blood and other fluids flow through your body. When you sit in cold water, your blood vessels constrict. When you get out, they dilate (or open back up). Aim for 10 to 15 minutes at 50°F (10°C).
5 – GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
You don’t need us to tell you that getting a good night of rest is essential to post-game recovery. But, there’s a scientific reason as well…
During the night, growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, which facilitates muscle growth and repair to help athletes recover after a tough game. Adequate sleep also helps athletes recover mental sharpness that diminishes with fatigue.
5 – THE DAY AFTER
The day following a game, hit the bike or pool for a light 30-minute workout. Then, stretch all of the key muscle groups for 30 seconds.
We all love a good massage, but if you don’t have a therapist on call, make use of a foam roller to massage tight spots. Compression sleeves are also a welcome go-to when it comes to recovery.