As we draw nearer to the winter months and enter the full blast of football season, this blog highlights our top tips for injury prevention and optimal performance. We’ll keep these top tips scientific but without boring you with the jargon. Naturally, we’ve also got to mention the superstitions with pre football match routines… wearing your lucky socks really does bring out your A game, right?
Let’s kick off:
- Sleep – a mundane tip I know, but in my opinion, this is by far the most important! Sleep is the way our body recovers, restores and builds all the products it needs for the day ahead. Of course, sleep quantity is specific to everyone but you should aim to get at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Lack of sleep will not only reduce your optimal performance by tampering with your decision making skills and alertness but it will also increase your risk of injury, as your muscles have not had sufficient recovery time. Sleep is more important than protein for muscles!
- Hydration – humans are made of 60% water, so there is no doubt that hydration plays a key role here. Dehydration leads to reduced physical and mental performance which inevitably leads to poor sporting performance. It’s recommended that we should drink 2 litres of water per day to keep ourselves sufficiently hydrated, however, as most football games are played in the morning or early afternoon, I’d say 2 litres is a tough pill to swallow. Therefore, I would recommend drinking 2 large glasses of water in the morning and bringing a bottle of water with you to the match.
- Pre-match meal – you should aim to eat this meal 3-4 hours before kick off to allow plenty of time for digestion (we’ve all made this mistake before..). This meal should be high in carbohydrates as this is the major energy source your body will use during the match. Great meal examples here include porridge, bananas, breads, muesli and peanut butter. Avoid over eating and consuming high fat foods such as cheese as these are typically harder to digest and may cause stitch during the match.
- Mid-match snack – half time is a great opportunity to consume vital fluids and restore your depleted energy stores. Taking regular small sips of water accompanied with carbohydrate rich snacks such as bananas and energy bars/gels are a great way of fuelling the body for the second half.
- The warm-up – don’t underestimate the power of the warm up. Our bodies need to prepare for intense exercise and this is exactly how it’s done. Your coach will likely have specific warm up routines for your team but some general tips are as follows: 20-30 minute duration, starting with low intensity working to higher intensity exercise, stretching once the muscles are warmed followed by short distance sprint drills.
- Clothing – as the temperature drops our bodies need to work extra hard to keep our body temperature up, so let’s give it a helping hand. Thermal shorts & tops are comfortable & lightweight options to help keep our body and muscles warm, which helps injury prevention. Waterproof spray on your boots is a great way to keep the feet dry and prevent heavy waterlogged boots which slows down sprint speed!
- Superstitions – there’s some strange ones out there and they’re nothing to be ashamed about! The lucky mascot, the lucky pair socks, the old worn and torn football boots you refuse to throw away after your 30 yard screamer which happened 5 years ago.. For the professionals, these superstitions are all too common. Cristiano Ronaldo gets a fresh haircut before every single football game he plays, even when they’re 3 days apart! Whether this is superstition or just the love of the camera… who knows!
So, there you have it, our top tips for your pre football match routine. Keep a close on eye on our blogs for more football specific posts including common football injuries and exercise programmes for football players!
Injuries are common in football and it’s not worth pursuing the ‘wait & see approach’ when you sustain an injury. Therefore, come book in for your complimentary physiotherapy consultation to see how we can help you get back onto the pitch and perform to your highest ability.