THE 5 ‘R’S OF POST MATCH & TRAINING
The final blast of the referee’s whistle, or the end of the training session signals not the end but in fact the start; the start of the recovery and regeneration cycle that prepares you for the next training session or match. Easily lost in the ecstasy of the win or disappointment of the loss is this very real situation. The first stage in your preparation for you next performance or win started immediately.
The best players and teams know this and that’s why in spite of the adulation the performance environment swings into action. You don’t need an army of specialists to operate a quality programme; sports therapists, physios or performance scientists are not required. Just a little common sense and a simple strategy!
Sweat loss during your performance depends on many factors including temperature, humidity, duration and intensity of exercise and even clothing! That being said your body is in need of rehydration and it will have already sent you the signals; thirst is normally a little further down the line than we’d like to be but sport doesn’t always provide timely breaks for a little drink! A sports drink is preferable due to the levels of carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, sodium etc). you can gauge how much you need to drink by simply weighing yourself before and after training! Consume 1.5l of a suitable fluid for every 1kg lost.
With fluids on board you can immediately get on to the next stage of preparation and that’s dealing with the stresses that you’ve just put your body through! Recovery modalities can be of various means but ideally will include some form of active regeneration or cool-down activity Lasting approximately 10minutes to help flush out the waste products of exercise. Where a coach is amenable, this should be before any team meeting.
Ice baths are also a method that can be employed to help reduce swelling in and around the joints and to help reduce small bleeds in the body’s tissues. And to top things off, compression garments can be worn for a number of hours afterwards to support the lymphatic system is removing waste products in the periphery of the body.
Recovery should also be continued the day after the performance with at the very least a walk, preferable a cycle or swim, or even a jog or run depending on how you feel. If you didn’t play as long as you’d have liked you may even do some additional ‘topping-up’ training.
Refuelling aids the repair of the stressed body, and also restores the depleted energy systems that have been utilised in getting you through the game. The Golden 30 minutes after a game is when the body is crying out for food and is readily prepared to absorb all of those nutrients and direct them specifically to where they are needed. While most foods can be used, and something is definitely better than nothing, better choices do exist and should be your go-to foods. Remember that you can mix refuelling and rehydration by taking on a protein shake with a blend of protein and carbs!
A highly competitive game of rugby or soccer will see a player burn c.1800-2300kcals and replacing this amount immediately after a game will be nigh on impossible. But over the next 4 hours each and every player should have a refuelling regime in place comprising of fluids and foods.
Competitive sport is not only taxing on the body but on the mind too; and often the mental stimulation from a game can last a lot longer than the performance itself. With hours spent in preparation from the night before the match, through the morning of the game and all the way through to the post-match analysis it is important that everyone has a way to release themselves mentally and have relaxation. What relaxes you will be a very individual thing but its often best to try and select activities that won’t place an additional load on the body, or inhibit refuelling!
Going to the cinema, gaming or even cooking can be very relaxing activities. Remember to have fun. Fun releases endorphins into the blood stream and this will relax you mentally, reducing stress and the physiological effects of stress!
When all is said and done, and the other four factors have been accounted for, sleep is the phase of recovery that allows all that has gone before to be put in its place. Many players remark on being unable to sleep after games; often because they have not found a way to relax and take their mind off the game. Also, they may still be physically ‘up’ following the game or something that happened in the game.
One thing is for sure, you should have more sleep than normal. Perhaps 10 hours if possible of unbroken sleep, waking up refreshed and relaxed. You’ll probably still feel a little stiff but otherwise ready to go.