By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Eat within 30 minutes of a workout. Timing is essential to recovery. The sooner you eat a snack, the better you’ll be able to maximize your recovery. Aim to eat within 30 minutes after the end of a practice or game. You’ll reduce soreness, replenish nutrients, and reduce your risk of injury.
Replenish fluids. During the course of a football practice or game, players lose valuable fluids that keep their bodies functioning properly. The physical exertion required to perform on the field often leaves players dehydrated. It is important that individuals replace the fluids lost during a game by drinking plenty of water in the hours immediately following a game. In addition, essential electrolytes are also depleted and must be replaced to help retain fluids in the body.
Nurse strained muscles. Even the best-conditioned athletes suffer from muscle strains due to overuse. Strained muscles should be treated by applying ice for 20 minutes every hour while awake. Ice helps to reduce pain and swelling associated with muscle strains. Once the swelling has subsided, heat may be used to loosen tight muscles and reduce pain.
Get the proper rest. Avoid strenuous activities, especially those that use muscle groups that are sore. While sleeping, growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland in the brain. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair, and helps athletes recover from a tough game. Adequate sleep also helps athletes recover mental sharpness that diminishes with fatigue.
Use a foam roller. The pressure of body weight on the roller stimulates the golgi tendon organ, which is located at the junction of muscles and tendons and regulates muscle tension. This causes a reflexive relaxation of muscles, and can also reputedly help work out tight or painful “trigger points” caused by scarring or muscular adhesions.
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