These tips and tricks can help you avoid post-game pain.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Many athletes tend to hydrate well before a game or match, but often neglect their hydration after exercise. Water regulates body temperature and lubricates the joints, allowing the body to flush out any pesky toxins and aid it in restoring muscle tissue. After you exercise, your goal is to fully replace your fluid and electrolyte loss. As tempting as it may be to have a few beers in the clubhouse to celebrate your golf game or hit the chocolate milk on the way home from the tennis court, it is important to drink water to quench your thirst first. Electrolyte drinks can also be used to rehydrate on days when you sweat particularly large amounts, but be careful. Many sports drinks are loaded with sugar and unnecessary calories.
Stretching at the end of your workout can help your body cool down without seizing up. While static stretches can actually increase the likelihood of injury before working out, they can help your muscles ease into rest.
- Stand near a wall with one foot behind the other. Place your palms on the wall and try to place the heel of your extended leg on the ground for a stretch through the calf and hamstring. Repeat with the other side.
- To stretch out the arms, especially the triceps that are often sore after tennis and golf, place both hands high above your head. Gently lower one hand until it is touching your back, grasping the elbow with your other hand. Gently pull your elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Repeat with the other arm.
- For your lower back, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your hips on the chair, gently turn your body until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other side.
Eating a small meal rich in protein can aid in muscle recovery after exercise. Some people use this as an excuse to have a big steak or a greasy cheeseburger after 18 holes. In reality, 20 to 30 grams of protein amounts to three whole eggs, one container of Greek yogurt, three ounces of chicken, or four ounces of lean beef. Opting for lean protein sources can also keep your weight on track.
Post-game pain is not inevitable. Using these few tips and tricks, you too can be back out on the links or at the court as soon as you want. If you need help with your recovery process or for more information on how physical therapy can help you regain your swing, contact us.