Ashley Watson is Sports Therapy BSc International Athlete. If you’d like more information on an injury or treatment please contact him at

Ash Watson

Recovery in football!

Here you will learn the following:

  • Why recovery is so important
  • Methods to enhance recovery
  • How nutrition will aid recovery

What is recovery?

  • “Time taken for the body to repair from stress caused by training and competition”.

After taking part in exercise at mild to high intensity, the body becomes fatigued. This normally results in a decrease in performance, muscle tightness and aches.

The quicker your body can recover will result in an increase in performance and lower the risk of an injury when you next play football.

A high percentage of muscular injuries in football, especially in the hamstring group muscles are caused by training whilst fatigued.

What can you do yourself to aid recovery in your own time?

  • Buy yourself a strong foam roller.

A foam roller is a foam cylinder shaped tool used for myofascial release. Rolling on these aids blood flow and releases tightness in the muscles. A tennis ball or something a similar shape can be used in the same way as a foam roller to work on smaller deeper muscles such as some glute and lower back muscles. If an area is much more sensitive than other areas on the body keep pressure on this area until the feeling subsides.

  • Keep on top of your stretching, especially in your cool down.

After exercise the muscles shorten, which decreases flexibility. Stretching will aid blood flow to the area which aids recovery and a good standard of flexibility will decrease injury. Get in a habit of holding stretches for around 15 seconds.

  • Active recovery (Keeping the legs moving)

As footballers your legs are worked very hard, resulting in these being a high priority to recover. Low intensity exercise is perfect to pump fresh blood into the muscles to aid the reduction of residual fatigue. A bike ride for half an hour or so is a perfect solution to this.

  • Ice bath

If you’re tough, try getting in a bath for 10 minutes filled with water just below 15 degrees. These should be used when the body is very fatigued or an important match is coming up. This is because there is some research suggesting that although this is a fantastic way to aid recovery, it may slow down training adaptions.

If you’re really lucky and have access to a hot bath (around 30 to 35 degrees) and ice bath at the same time you can do 3 sets of 3 minutes in each bath

Nutrition and recovery

  • As an international athlete myself I train very hard regularly and I found that when I ate a healthy source of protein, complex carbohydrates, fats and fibre I recovered so much faster than when eating unhealthy food. More information on nutrition will be in one of my next blogs although here are some important benefits of a good healthy diet with the correct amount of macronutrients.
  • Replace the body’s muscle glycogen stores (carbohydrates)
  • Keeping hydrated after exercise as dehydration negatively impacts sporting performance
  • New muscle protein for growth and repair.

All in all everyone’s body is different and takes different periods of time to recover. You should monitor how fast your body is recovering and act upon this. Training at a high intensity when the body is not fully recovered is putting you at high risk to become injured.

Hope this short blog helps!






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