This is one of the topics that all goalkeepers at all levels are going to want to know about. Obviously, recovery times are much quicker when you’re younger. When you’re in your teens most of the issues that you’re going to have are going to go away on their own if you just leave them be for a while. The problem even in these years is that if you’re competing at a high level you don’t have a couple of days to rest. You’ll be right back at it hitting that bruised thigh or knee up against the ground. Creating a recovery routine for yourself from a young age can really help you feel a lot better now and later into your career.
What I want to do in this article is talk about some of the different things that you can do to help your body recover. This is not a step-by-step process that I’m going to be throwing out here. The reason why I don’t want to make this a step-by-step process is because I feel that you need to find a routine that works for you. Some of the things that I’m going to be recommending I know won’t be accessible to everyone. Hopefully, any goalkeeper that reads this is going to be able to pick up on at least one or two things that they can incorporate into their recovery routine. Ultimately a good recovery routine is going to help you be better at the next practice or the next game and when you feel better you usually play better!
Ice Baths or Ice Where It Hurts At Least
I see this in a lot of sports and with young players it’s hard to get them to understand the recovery process. Like I said, the truth is at some of the early stages of your career you’re going to be “ok” even if you don’t do much in the way of recovery. Getting into the habit though of getting in the ice bath, the cold tub whatever you have available to you is going to help you in the short and the long term. Just right off the bat you’re going to be less puffy, less sore and all of those things in those areas where it may not even hurt at the moment. When you get out there, and you’re a lot fresher you’re going to be able to perform better.
You don’t have a place to set up an ice bath or a cold tub that you can use? Then go ahead and find some ice and towel and apply it where it hurts. Even if it doesn’t hurt all that much you’re still doing some work. There was a dumb notion that I was still a part of where you don’t want to make it look like you’re hurt. So you’re not going to be using ice after training, that makes you look soft. There’s no way to sugarcoat this, that’s a stupid idea, and it gets you nowhere. Get some cold on the bruises quickly then maybe even move towards a heat treatment. Not an expert in this field, but looking for ways to make sure your body doesn’t swell up after training or games is always a good idea.
Evaluation Of Any Potential Bruise
Again I’m going to start with the best case scenario and work my way towards what goalkeepers can do to that maybe for example don’t have a doctor on hand to help them evaluate any issues. If there’s a team doctor, and you’re not seeing them to let them know where it hurts you’re missing out. I get it again that you don’t want to look weak. So you go to the doc and you ask them where you can see them not in front of everyone where they can evaluate all of the bumps and bruises that you’re dealing with. As a goalkeeper you’re going to be playing through bumps and bruises all of the time. Understanding each situation and how to deal with it is going to be key towards keeping your body healthy. Particularly if you’re trying to be a high performance goalkeeper with daily training routines.
What if you don’t have a doctor on hand that’s going to be able to help you out? Maybe if you can get some advice from an actual doctor online or someone locally. Meet with them a couple of times and allow them to explain to you what the best course of action might be, specifically for the bumps and bruises. I’m sure that any competent doctor is going to have a better answer to some of these issues than the ones that I’m putting forward. You can incorporate that advice maybe to some of the ideas that I’m throwing out here that can be more specific to goalkeepers. Like I said in the begging any of these that you can take and use for your benefit go all in! That’s the goal here.
Active Recovery Activities
I’ve talked before on the site that I used to swim after practices, and it really helped me release a lot of the tension on the muscles. Even some of the bumps and bruises were helped out by the cold water and movements. Remember that goalkeeping is very much a high impact activity. What I always recommend is that you look for things that are not high impact that can help you either develop some type of strength or endurance for the body that will help you become a better goalkeeper. For example, something I would never recommend for a goalkeeper who is actively training on the field is to go do something like CrossFit. Save the high impact situations for the field, don’t put yourself at a double risk of injury.
It’s nothing against CrossFit. In fact if CrossFit is your main sport don’t do goalkeeping. Swimming, yoga, those are the two activities that I would recommend. Some people may say cycling is a good idea as well. I agree just as long as it’s indoor cycling. Just because of the risk of falling that exists in outdoor cycling. So if you’re really training hard to be a goalkeeper again I would never recommend that you combine that with activities where you can potentially get hurt. I know Ben Foster does cycling and he’s still active. It’s just that I would hate to see any goalkeeper miss an opportunity to start because they hurt themselves by falling off a bike. Even the outdoor jogging that I do now, I probably wouldn’t do it if I was still playing pro.
When Are Pain Killers, Ointments Or Any Medicine A Good Idea?
This is a tough question for me to answer because of my lack of a medical background. Obviously I would refer back to what I said earlier of having a head doctor. That can go a long way as a goalkeeper because you’ll have a go-to presence to deal with a lot of these issues. What I always considered a bit of a problem is that after any training session you could certainly justify getting some help from medicine. Yet, I know the major issue that popping pills could potentially become. This is a real situation in my opinion that doesn’t get talked about a lot when it comes to football/soccer players and goalkeepers in specific.
A side from the pill situation having go-to creams and ointments is a must for a goalkeeper. Again in this situation it’s always going to be a better idea to talk to a specialist to see what the best options might be for you. If you’re able to deal with the bumps and bruises that are inevitably going to come up from time to time, with ointments and natural treatments you’re probably going to be better off. I’m just never going to be a major promotor of pills and things of that nature. Mostly because like I mentioned when it comes to goalkeepers you’re going to be hurting somewhere basically every single day. If your go-to remedy are pills that’s just not a great idea in my book.
Stretch & Protect The Affected Area Before The Next Session
This is going to be a must. In fact, I always encourage goalkeepers to try and develop their own stretching routine. What happens with younger goalkeepers is that the coach is usually going to be the one in charge of the exercises that you’re going to be doing that day. This is going to include your stretching. To be completely honest at some of those early stages in life stretching is not going to be key or at least you won’t feel as much of the bad side of not stretching. As you get older though that’s going to change overnight and hit you like a ton of bricks. There’s no reason to sugarcoat the fact that age is not friendly a lot of times.
As you move into certain age groups it’s a good idea to develop either your own routine or to truly get a sense for what type of exercise stretches what part of the body. You can have a routine where you get to most of the muscles that you’re going to be using. Then spend some time on the parts of the body that are a bit more sore. It’s bound to happen, especially if you’re training on a regular basis. When things get really serious don’t be afraid to look for extra protection on a given area. For example, I usually recommend that goalkeepers do have knee pads and elbow pads. Some of us don’t love to use them on a daily basis. There could be one day though when that extra protection is going to come in handy.
Give Someone The Chance To Pull You Out When Needed
Coaches should be a lot more active in this in my opinion. Maybe I’m coming from an old school perspective that isn’t as dominant anymore. What I remember though was that a lot of the coaches would look down on you if you decided that you needed to rest for a day. Again, I’m looking at it from what I lived through almost 10 years ago. I am not necessarily sure that the situation is the same nowadays. All that I am saying is that if you have someone in your corner that you give authority to so that they are allowed to throw in the towel for you, it could be a good thing.
Having said this I think if you’re active when it comes to your recovery you’re not going to be in these situations as often. If you take time to ice the injuries and stretch like you’re supposed to, plus you make sure that you eat right and get enough sleep if you’ve pretty much won half the battle. If you can put in some active recovery workouts I would also recommend those. Whether that be things like yoga or swimming like I mentioned. A lot of times what those do is allow you to calm your mind a bit. It’s not just your physique that you want to be on the lookout for. There are going to be moments where it’s the mind that needs the rest. Some of these alternative workouts are known to be good for that part of the body.