Joshua Smith discusses Medical Recovery Protocols that everyone can follow


After games fans will often see players performing light jogging exercises, stretches and then make their way back inside to the change-room, but, the work doesn’t stop there.

The AmaZulu Head Performance Manager outlines 3 important pieces to the recovery puzzle and provide cost effective alternatives that any amateur player or club can take advantage of.

NUTRITION:

After training or games your body is like a sponge, its ready to absorb carbohydrates and protein to aid in the recovery process.

Drinking water to rehydrate is also very important – a good way of measuring how much water you have lost from training or game is to measure players before and after a game and compare, this will give you and your players an idea of how much water they need to drink (i.e., if you lost 1.5kgs of weight, look to drink 1.5l of water) – you don’t have to drink this all at one go, rather take your time.

Believe it or not, but chocolate milk (480ml) is a great recovery tool, increasing muscle repair and improving subsequent endurance performance.

Add a chicken/steak or peanut butter and jam sandwich to that, and you’ve got the immediate post-match nutrition covered – snack options that players and clubs at any level can afford. This should be done within the first 30 minutes after playing. Don’t forget to have a more substantial meal once home – chicken and brown rice is a great option.

RECOVERY TOOL – ICE BATH:

No matter where I have worked, whether it be at national level, or club level in South Africa and Turkey, players don’t enjoy the idea of getting into ice cold water.

So why do we make the players do this? It has been found by various scientists that putting players into cold water between 12 – 15 degrees, for 10 minutes after a game can speed up recovery time, reduce muscle soreness, and improve subsequent match performance.

Ice baths come in many shapes and forms, from the old-fashioned wheelie bin with water and ice, to the expensive, temperature-controlled water pump bath. Not all the stadiums in the country are fitted with large baths to ice players in, so a lot of the time wheelie bins are used.

It’s important to make sure that they’re clean (should not have been used for garbage), add in some disinfectant, and have the temperature around 12 – 15 degrees, and you’re set.

SLEEP:

The final point in the cycle of recovery is sleep. This is often neglected by players and staff, but it is the most important of them all.

It’s recommended that athletes get 7 – 9 hours of sleep to ensure maximum recovery and performance maintenance, this should be considered when scheduling the training session after a game.

If players do have less than 4 hours sleep, it is recommended that they have a nap 30 minutes after lunch the next day, with scientists finding that this helps with performance.

The following points below can be helpful to all players:

– No coffee or alcohol before bed
– Take a hot shower or warm bath to relax muscles
– 30 minutes before bed, no TV, no smartphone, no laptop
– Reduce anxiety and stress by breathing deeply; tense all your muscles as tight as you can and then relax; close your eyes, take deep, slow breaths

Remember, TRAIN HARD, RECOVER WISELY.

By Joshua Smith

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