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Smart Recovery Guidelines

Carl Petersen provides some tips that will help you to recover quickly from your matches or training and help to keep you fit to play.

Training causes micro-trauma to the body's tissues which must heal. This is the first step in increasing the ability of a muscle to meet new challenges. The "healing" process not only restores the muscle to its previous strength and endurance, but it increases the strength and endurance of the muscle.


Dr. Alain Marion states that "fatigue is usually a temporary condition which disappears in a few hours if the athlete has access to adequate rest, recovery techniques, nutrition, hydration, and emotional support. However, if the training load is excessive or it is administered before recovery has occurred the state of fatigue can persist and even worsen." Do not commence heavy training until you have fully recovered from previous training, competition, or travel. Allow adequate time for recovery and modify training to optimize taper and peak if getting ready for an important tournament. The following are some practical tips to help you recover quickly and stay fit to play.

Re-Set Your Balance Clock

When joints are sore and fatigued, the natural balance and protective reactions that the muscles have can be inhibited. Your body will not be able to react as well to unexpected events or stay protected during repetitive motions. You are helping to improve your posture and decrease your chance of injury. Re-set your balance clock with some drills using wobble boards or foam rolls. Most gyms will have some balancing equipment available.

Re-Connect "the Core"

"The core" is the 3-Dimensional Corset made up of your lower abdominal, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and low back muscles. If you have any mal-alignment, lower back, hip, or abdominal discomfort, this 3-Dimensional core can become dysfunctional. It usually fires in a pre-anticipation of any movement. With dysfunction, there is a timing delay.

Doing some 'Core' exercises helps reconnect the core and get it firing properly before your next activities. This will help maintain alignment and ensure you have a stable platform or base for the arms and legs to work off of during activity.

Try a hip bridge with rotation and a pony back to neutral exercise. Lying on your back, bridge hips up and give a 1/4 twist rotating first to one side then the other. Go slow and repeat 4 to 8 times per rotation.

Re-Play Your Training or Match

After your practice or match session, it is important to Re-Play your important points. Make a note of both the negative and positive aspects of your game. Work on the negative ones and then focus on the positive ones. Do not let the negative ones affect you as it is time to move on and look at the positive aspects of your game. Start a training diary and take short notes on what you practiced, what went well, what was critical, and what you have to work on in the next few days or weeks. You can only improve your game if you recognize your weaknesses, work on them and stick to your strengths.


After or between practice sessions and matches, give the body's systems a chance to relax. This will help you regain your physical and mental strength to train or compete at a high level again. It allows you to recharge the batteries or refill the tank. The most natural way to relax physically and mentally is to sleep, but that is not always possible. There are a lot of different ways to relax, and everybody has individual preferences. It is best to combine a couple of relaxation techniques and get into a personal routine.

  • Physical relaxation can include a sauna, slow running or walking, massage, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, stretching, or sleeping
  • Mental relaxation can include breathing exercises, meditation, or autogenic training
  • Emotional relaxation can include listening to music, daydreaming, or drinking your favourite beverage.

Regain Muscle Length

Perform static and facilitated stretches to optimize muscle and tendon length post-training. Try stretching in the pool or hot tub.

Recovery Menu

Try one or more of the following recovery techniques. Alternate stimulation with hot/cold makes you feel perky and pepped up and helps wash out waste products and metabolites and brings oxygen to the fatigued muscles.


Use them to cleanse pores. Repeat often - especially on hotter days

Hot and Cold - A

  • Hot (comfortable) shower for 2 minutes
  • Cold (as possible) shower for 10 seconds
  • Repeat 6-10 times

Hot and Cold - B

  • Cold (as able to stand) shower for 1 minute
  • Hot (as comfortable) shower for 30 seconds
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times

Water pressure - hose

Cold Water Hose

  • 45 seconds on each leg
  • 30 seconds on each arm.

Warm Shower

  • 30 seconds for each leg
  • 20 seconds for each arm.

Repeat the above 5 to 7 times

Sauna/cold plunge

Use at least one hour after training

  • Warm shower for 3 to 5 minutes
  • Towel dry
  • Sauna for 7 minutes (RH 10 to 30% and temperature 80 to 90 degrees centigrade)
  • A cold plunge or cold shower for 15 to 30 seconds
  • Rest (feet up) for 5 minutes
  • If it is the day before a day off of playing or training, then repeat three more times otherwise repeat once more
  • Finish with a warm shower for 3 to 5 minutes

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • PETERSON, C. (2006) Smart Recovery Guidelines. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 30 /March), p. 5-6

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • PETERSON, C. (2006) Smart Recovery Guidelines [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Carl Petersen is a physiotherapist and fitness coach/coach from Vancouver, Canada. He has published over 200 articles in magazines worldwide.