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