Rugby is not for the faint-hearted. We put the effort in on the pitch for 80 minutes on a Saturday but the key to maintaining performance levels throughout the season is putting the effort in throughout the week. Each game you play will bring with it its own challenges. I sit here writing this with a pretty large lump on my head and I’ve been kicked so in hard in my shin the swelling is all up my calf muscle. You get the knocks and the niggles but you have to start recovery straight after the game.
All this though is part and parcel of this great sport. The impression from the outside world is that rugby is all about the big gains in the gym, but throughout the season this is more about maintaining and recovering for the next big game. The biggest changes are achieved in pre-season.
POST GAME RECOVERY
You’ve just put your heart and soul into 80 minutes, but you still need to get yourself warmed down properly. The easiest thing to get started especially for the amateur player would be to get a good 10 minutes at least of active stretching in to warm yourself down.
There are other add-ons to that if you’re going to be prepared, a 20 minute warm down on the bike would be great but those facilities aren’t always available. 20 minutes with a foam roller is also beneficial at this time.
Warm Down Suggestions
- Warm down session on field, with stretching
- Spinning bike, low intensity
- Sports Massage – If you’re lucky enough to have a physio on hand
Rehydrating is also key at this time, making up for lost fluids during the game need to be replenished. The pros will even be weighed to see how much their weight has changed and they will replenish with water after the game over the next few hours.
If you are out for a night with the boys to celebrate the big win then you still need to get your rest in afterward. You might be up all night but as close as you can get to 8 hours would be hugely beneficial to your body recovery.
Why is sleep important for recovery?
When you are sleeping, energy consumption is lowered. This allows for the quality foods you’ve taken on to be used for muscle recovery. Growth hormone is also released during the night which again helps with the regeneration of muscle and recovery.
You can see our Top Rated Supplements here. With these, we’d be taking amino’s and protein after the game to start replenishing as we’ve described above. Getting them into the body after the game helps charge up the muscles with the amino acids that they need to start repairing the muscle tissue.
A lot of people already wear some of the compression stuff. You can get all sorts from such brands as SKINS. During the game, they are becoming part of parcel of the standard kit for some, but wearing and sleeping after the game has been shown to help with things such as muscle soreness post game. It’s not exactly what you’d want to be wearing out for some beers but it is thought that the compression increases the blood flow to the body.
THINGS TO AVOID POST-GAME
Avoid taking on caffeine at this time post game, that is until you are fully hydrated. After a couple of litres of water this should be fine but just stick to the water post game.
We know that Saturday is normally about the only time you get as a rugby player during the season to drink, but if you are going to get completely wasted you are having a massive effect on your prep for next weekend. At least make sure you are hydrated before you get started.
Ignoring Protein Intake
It’s an easy to submit to just smashing unhealthy food, but just remember that this is critical for muscle recovery. You still need to keep on top of protein intake for the day. While you’re smashing pizza your muscles are struggling for recovery without the building blocks to sort themselves out.
I never took any of this seriously growing up, back through the years I would finish a game and be straight into planning the night out and hitting the beers by 6-7pm.
As I’ve got closer and now hit the big 30 I have had to change, warm downs weren’t something that anyone would do. But now I am out on the field making sure I get it done, I can really tell if I’ve not now especially if it’s been a physical one. At fly-half you can sometimes end up getting a fair amount of tackling done (Not that many are successful, mind.) and that can really prove a difficult nights sleep for me and my back.
I normally keep a shake in the car ready for post game and I’ll get that after I get back to the changing room and grab my keys. I have a walk down to the car, confirm with the wife I’ve survived then go back and get a shower. Being honest I will probably have a pint but I’ve already taken on a litre of water at that point and I’ll get another litre in at least in the next couple of hours.
Big meal for Saturday night as it’s generally treated meal time for the family. Then I’ll finish the night off with a generally cold walk with the dog, nothing major, probably 1.5-2km and then bed.