Have you ever had the best game of your life and you're so sore the next day that you can barely move out of bed?
Oh boy, do I know what that's like! Every athlete does. Post-game recovery is a reality of pushing yourself on the field. If you want to play your best, you're going to be sore the next day. That just makes sense, given how hard you push your body. After intense periods of exercise, your body experiences micro-tears and trauma, specifically to your muscles. This is how you get stronger, as the muscles repair themselves.
All of that being said, there is absolutely no reason why you need to be in agony. Post-game recovery shouldn't be torturous. So, how can athletic training help you your body recover and guarantee that you won't be in traction the following day?
When you're out there playing your heart out, you're going to be burning "fuel" like crazy. By the end of the game, you might not have much left. This is why it's essential to refuel your body after a game.
You need to replenish depleted electrolytes, rehydrate your body and get carbs back into your system. By eating and drinking soon after the game, you can reduce aches and pains the next day and set your post-game recovery up right. Sports drinks (preferably those without a ton of sugar) can help with hydration and electrolytes, and a protein shake can give your body the fuel it needs.
A buildup of lactic acid in your muscles greatly contributes to soreness the next day. After a period of intense exercise in athletic training, weight training or out on the field, you need a proper cooldown period where you gently work your muscles to help recirculate your blood and eliminate waste products.
This doesn't need to last long—about 10 minutes of gentle stretching should do the trick. A simple cooldown process will set your muscles on the road to recovery and greatly reduce post-game trauma.
There is some controversy about this recovery method, with some athletes reporting incredible results and others reporting increased soreness.
In an ice bath, you get into cold water for about 10 minutes. This constricts the blood vessels and theoretically helps your body "flush" waste products like lactic acid.
Hot baths, on the other hand, dilate the blood vessels, bringing extra blood to damaged tissues to jumpstart your recovery.
You could try one, or both. Trust me though. The following day when you are sore? A nice hot bath can feel like a godsend, even if it won't instantly help.
Massages improve blood flow and relaxation and help release endorphins, all fantastic when you're looking for post-game recovery results.
Just make sure that when you get a full massage, employ someone who knows what they're doing. The last thing you want is someone actually damaging a muscle that you just worked for the three hours.
If you don't have access to a massage, some foam rolling should do the trick.
Honestly, rest is probably the best thing you can do to help your body recover after an intense game or sports training.
Some athletes underestimate the importance of sleep and skimp on it. The reality is that a good seven to eight hours of sleep the night after a game greatly contributes to how you feel in the morning. You might wake up sore, but that would happen anyway. Proper sleep will help you heal faster and reduce the recovery period so that you can restore your full strength faster and be ready for the next game ASAP!