It doesn’t matter if you play in the Sunday league or have made your way into the Premier League; post-football recovery is significant – it’s not only essential to avoid injuries and promote a healthy lifestyle but directly impacts your in-game focus. In simpler words, who likes waking up with sore and stiff muscles after a game, right?
In most cases, professional footballs play various ninety-minute games a week while Sunday league players have to play more to catch up on the missed sessions from the winter. So, if you have football gaming coming up, we are sharing how you can recover from a football match and get ready to play the next match with full zeal!
The Importance Of Post-Match Recovery
Football matches go on for over ninety minutes and can significantly impact the mind and body. These matches can be highly competitive, which is why they cause depletion in energy levels and dehydration. There is a lot of muscle damage. Not to forget, mental fatigue is one of recovery's most essential yet undermined parts.
From a nutrition point of view, recovery depends on the player’s ability to replenish their energy levels by consuming low-fat and more dietary carbohydrates. In addition, proteins are essential to repair torn muscles, while Omega-3 and antioxidants are essential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
On top of everything, high-quality and sufficient sleep helps relax you, and don’t forget to indulge in other hobbies to eliminate mental fatigue. You can opt for carbohydrate-rich meals, cherries, and cherry juice because they help improve your sleep quality.
Using Nutrition As A Part Of Post-Match Recovery
One of the fastest ways to recover is by eating green veggies and foods that are highly rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Eat these foods within 2 hours to refill all the energy you lost during the match. When eating such nutritious food, make sure you add a little bit of ginger; it acts as a booster and makes a quick recovery. If you have a match, you must get 8 hours of sleep and avoid using drugs and alcohol, TV, and high caffeine an hour before the match.
It’s essential to consume the proper nutrients to improve the recovery process, which is why you must focus on maintaining the fundamentals of nutrition.
To begin with, you must consume kcal because failure to comply with the energy requirements will increase muscle breakdown and deplete the energy reserves in the body. In addition, failure to meet the body’s nutritional requirements will slow down the muscle repair process and immune function.
It’s entirely possible to restore the glycogen within a day after the match, even though the muscle damage from the eccentric contractions and collisions during the matches will lead to structural alterations to muscles, especially the GLUT4 (glucose transporter) – it can adversely impact the rate of glycogen resynthesis. For this reason, restoring the glycogen will take around 72 hours.
In the first three hours of the recovery process, the glycogen starts twitching the muscle fibres slowly, which means that the most explosive players on the team tend to become more impacted, mainly when they play a second game quickly without completing the recovery phase. In particular, the members who perform the centre forwards and wing backs are most impacted.
The Phase One Of Recovery
The first recovery phase starts as soon as the final whistle is blown, and you’ve to begin immediately. That’s because starting the recovery process immediately will improve the refuelling by three times compared to waiting until you reach home, shower, and change. For this reason, consuming a delicious yet accessible and practical recovery product is essential.
These recovery products aim to provide a sufficient dosage of carbohydrates because the total number of carbohydrates is essential, and the optimal dosage for the maximal glycogen rates is 1.2g per kilogram. This ratio can be challenging to acquire in the liquid form because it needs an immense amount of fluid.
However, you can use the lower dosage, ranging from 0.7g per kilogram to 0.9g per kilogram, to stimulate the resynthesis of the muscle glycogen. However, you will need to add vegan or whey protein to it. You can add a teaspoon of electrolyte blend and creatine monohydrate to the recovery mix as it helps support the rehydration, recovery, and refuelling process. In simpler words, it’s all about maintaining a balance of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and proteins as it helps improve muscle recovery.
Many players don’t know this, but certain parts of the recovery process can be supported before the final whistle is blown. For instance, you can consume pre-exercise and during-exercise carbohydrate intake to improve your immune function during intense matches and training sessions. Carbohydrate intake can help stabilise the stress response and blood glucose.
For this reason, consuming a carbohydrate-rich pre-match meal is essential, and other energy snacks are essential to support recovery.
The Phase Two Of Recovery
The second phase of recovery starts when you are done taking a shower after the match. For this purpose, you can opt for salmon skewers, sandwiches, energy balls, pitta bread pizza, healthy muffins, cereal bars, rice cakes, flavoured milk, or fresh fruits because they provide a perfect combination of carbohydrates, antioxidants, and protein that’s essential to optimise the recovery process. The addition to hydration drinks will supply additional carbohydrates, which helps maximise the refuelling process.
At this stage, implementing the 3R refuelling principles is recommended, with which you can consume carbohydrates in the form of rice, potatoes, and pasta, as it can damage the muscles. In addition, you can consume protein-rich foods, such as beef, salmon, and chicken, to supply power to the muscles and rehydrate yourself with milk, fruit juice, or water.
Many experts recommend consuming milk and salmon in combination because salmon provides Omega-3 and protein – it helps reduce soreness, swelling, and inflammation. On the other hand, milk has protein, fluid, and carbohydrates. However, if you cannot eat salmon, you should invest in Omega-3 gummies. Also, before sleeping, you should eat a protein-rich snack because it helps maximise the overnight muscle repair after you’ve completed an intensive workout or a match.
Sleep Is Important
Sleep is one of the most essential and effective recovery tools. It’s common for footballers to struggle with circadian rhythm disorders and sleep deprivation because of strenuous gaming schedules and intense training. In addition, excess stress and mental fatigue can result in alertness, which negatively impacts the sleeping quality even more. For this reason, it’s critical to focus on the sleeping quality, and the following tips can help;
- First, you should place the sleep and wake-up cycle closer to the match day’s sleeping schedule but don’t forget to factor in the travel.
- You must minimise caffeine intake eight to ten hours before sleep but don’t cut it off entirely because it can also slow down your performance, so consuming too much caffeine one hour before the match may be a disadvantage for you and your teammates.
- Try to consume your last meal two to three hours before sleep time to ensure you have a lighter stomach.
- Take two to three hours to calm down, relax, and optimise the hormonal balance.
- Stay away from the bright lights and blue screens to help with melatonin production; this hormone is essential to make you feel sleepy.
- Last but not least, you must articulate post-game thoughts rather than suppressing them. You can try journaling as it helps make sense of your thoughts.
Focus On Active Recovery Strategies
Active recovery is one of the most effective ways of speeding up the recovery process as it helps improve blood circulation and delivers more nutrients and oxygen to the body. In addition, they include mobility sessions that help unlock the tight areas of the body. Some of these strategies include;
- Putting legs against the walls
- Foam rolling
- Percussion therapy
- Sports massage
- Artificial muscle stimulation
- Jacuzzi or sauna sessions
- Compression boots
Focus On Other Protective Gear
On top of everything, one of the best recovery techniques is prevention, and you can invest in our non-slip football grip socks. These socks are mainly designed for the players and keep them cool. In addition, they help you turn sharper, faster, and more accessible. The thick base helps provide cushioning and protect the joints from injuries. Also, it has anti-blister technology, so you don’t have to worry about painful blisters after the game.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, recovery is critical for football players. After a very competitive soccer match, it takes around seventy-two hours to recover the muscle glycogen completely. If you do not rest properly, this can directly impact your performance in the next match. We have already mentioned different recovery phases, the types of food items you need to consume, what type of exercises you’ve to follow, the type of protective gear to use during the match, the importance of sleep, and much more. In addition, don’t forget to cool off because your mental well-being is as important as your physical well-being!