Recovery begins as soon as your workout ends. Start with a recovery shake within 15-20 minutes to replenish your energy stores. A good shake will have carbohydrates and rebuild your damaged tissue with protein.
Don’t make a mistake and skip the carbs. Soccer players expend a lot of energy during a game covering the field. You need to refill your energy stores with carbs for the next game.
If you just go and sit down on the field, or in the car on the way home you are hurting yourself. You haven’t given your muscles a chance to move fresh blood and pump out the waste products.
Spend 7 – 10 minutes with a light jog after the game or practice. By working at low intensity you will clear metabolic waste accumulated in your muscles.
When you get home, spend 5-10 minutes focusing on resetting your muscle tissue. This can include foam rolling and trigger point work on target areas and massage. The front of the thighs and calf muscles, along with the bottom of your foot are good targets.
After you reset the muscle tissue, you have to mobilize it so it stays supple and recovers quickly. Techniques can include active isolated stretching, yoga or band stretching.
Make sure to focus on the lower leg and hip flexors. They are areas that get stressed by the kicking and sprinting during a soccer game.
Sitting immersed in water can do some great things for recovery. The most common question for immersion is hot or cold? The answer depends on the timing of your next bout of training.
If you’re not training again until the next day, go hot (hot tub, Epsom salt bath). If you’re training again within the same day, go cold (ice tub, 10-12 minutes).
One of the most important parts of recovery is the ability to shut down. It’s easy to get fired up, but the best soccer athletes can power down just as quickly. Meditation, deep breathing and massage are all techniques to help bring you back down, and let your body do its work rebuilding.
In a tournament setting, with multiple games in a day, spending even 3-5 minutes to calm your mind can help your body recover faster.
The most powerful recovery method for humans is sleep. It helps both your body and mind. Getting 8-10 hours of quality sleep improves sports performance. Make sure you turn off you phone and electronic devices early, shut out light, and get a good night’s sleep.