Post Match Recovery Strategies

No matter how sophisticated and carefully planned a training program, without adequate recovery it will never be optimally effective. Recovery must be an essential part of all training programs, and must be carefully planned and programmed. Optimal recovery requires a multidimensional approach, that addresses all aspects of the athletic lifestyle, such as sleep, nutrition, overall stress levels, etc.

Research has shown that by following a proactive recovery routine will reduce the stress effects on the body and improve subsequent training sessions and performances. Common practices which have been shown to be effective include:

Contrast bathing (1min cold, 2mins hot, x3-6)

Non-impact active recovery (7-10mins on an exercise bike)

Compression garments 12hrs (until the next morning)

The following is an example of a post match recovery routine:

Within the First 5 minutes – Rehydrate and Refuel

Eat/drink carbohydrates and protein, in a 4:1 ratio, utilizing high Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates.
A recovery sports drink is ideal.

5 – 20 minutes—Cool Down
Move lightly for five to eight minutes.
Stretch for eight to ten minutes.

15 – 20 minutes—Neural Recovery
Use a hydrotherapy tool (e.g. contrast showers or cold bath).
Self massage. (Using predominantly shaking techniques to stimulate neural recovery).
Continue to hydrate.

Within the First Hour—Refuel and Psychological Recovery

Continue to rehydrate.
Take in solid food (high and medium GI carbohydrates and protein) to replace carb stores, amino acids and electrolytes.
Carry out a performance review.
Start to unwind, using music for example as appropriate.

In the Evening—Psychological Recovery

Relax as appropriate
Continue to hydrate and refuel as appropriate with a focus on high quality protein to rebuild muscle tissue, maintain glycogen stores, prevent or reduce any inflammation, and optimise body weight.

Prior to Bed—Sleep Optimization

Use relaxation skills to switch off.
Follow your sleep guidelines.

For detailed nutritional advice Claire Harrison ( is available for consultation.

Further reading

Gill, Beaven and Cook (2006) Effectiveness of post match recovery strategies in rugby players. Br J. Sports Med. 40:260-263


My Pre Season Prep Phase

In preparation for my Iron-man training I’ve been going through a series of reviews, from Strength and Conditioning to nutrition, as well as the usual heart rate testing and time trials to establish my baselines.

During this phase I’m laying the foundations for what is to come, and ensuring that I’m working as a 24hr athlete. Rest and recovery are the key factors to ensure optimum performance come July 3rd 2011. The main areas I need to improve on is the timing of my nutrition, especially protein, and getting enough sleep!


My nutrition review with Claire Harrison of The Performance Clinic ( has identified the following areas to improve on:

Increase fruit in am/breakfast especially berries, rather than fruit in the afternoon.
Increase protein overall:

Ensure protein in am
Red meat x3 per week
Fish x2-3 per week
Eggs in am

Pro-biotic Yoghurt +/- sandwich mid pm
Nuts on non-running days
Multi-vit and vit C daily
Ensure get solid real food in stage 4 (1-2 hrs post workout)
Increase vegetables in stage 5 (main meals)
Reduce tea, and don’t have with food

Trial increased electrolytes in drink at start of ride
Protein mid-later stages of ride
Increase food intake on recovery days

Strength and Conditioning

My Prep Phase S+C program currently consists of:

Warm up with:

Hip activation with bands, side step with squats, X-band walks, crocodile walks, YTWL over a gym ball.

Foam roller tissue mobility work.

Day 1
Chins 3010
Chest Press with twist 3010
3×8 90sec rest

Front elevated Split squat with DB 2010 x15
Stiff leg Dead lift 2010 x10
X3 90sec rest

Bent over barbell row 3010 x8
Petersons set ups with DB x15
X3 90sec rest

Rotator cuff LR x12
Reverse hyper 3010 x10reps
X3 90sec rest

Day 2
Push press with static stabilise 20X0 x10
Hamstring curls on ball 3010 x15
Single arm DB row 3020 x10
X4 90sec rest

Dips 30X0 x10
Squat heels raised 30X0 x12
Trap 3 extension 30X0 x15
X4 90sec rest

Hanging leg raise 30X0 x15
Prone Horizontal abduction 2320 x10
Saxon side bends 2020 x15
Rotator cuff LR 2121 x12
X4 90sec rest

Physio exercises

Continued work on thoracic mobility, hip mobility and facial chain mobility. Soft tissue work around left shoulder girdle. Single leg exercises focussing on right leg 60:40.