Football recovery is just as or more important than football practice. And the team with the most fit muscles and mobile joints have the best advantage in winning and in safety. Every athlete has their preferred method of physical therapy that has been tried and tested to be true. With plenty of scientific evidence and testimonials to back it up, it’s hard to argue with these favorites in the NFL.
Tried and Tested Football Recovery Methods
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows that a proper recovery begins with the cool down. A process that is even more important for our football heroes. It’s a chance to increase blood flow to eliminate that lactic acid build up before the next practice or game. When an active cool down such as a jog or swim just won’t do, some athletes turn to the HydroWorx system, also known as the underwater treadmill. This winning combination gives you the benefits of an active cool down from the treadmill and improved circulation from a full-body immersion in warm water.
Actually, whether it’s cold, hot, or both, NFL players love the immediate and long-term benefits of full-body immersions. Contrast baths are the best of both worlds, but are not always used because of practicality. They need to be performed about 30 minutes after a workout for it to be effective. Luckily, this is not the case for cold and hot baths.
What makes cold immersion baths a favorite among athletes from all sports is how it seems to flush the lactic acid by dilating the blood vessels. It causes nutrients from other parts of the body to rush to the exhausted muscles. Players that are really hardcore, go for the extreme version of a cold bath immersion, known as cryotherapy. For three minutes the body is exposed to extreme cold temperatures of -200ºF to -250ºF. These temperatures introduce the muscles to a large amount of blood flow from the severe vasoconstriction and rapid vasodilation.
Brett Fischer, an athletic trainer who has worked with several professional athletes, has found that hot baths seem to have the best results when used 12 to 24 hours post workout. Waiting hours after a workout avoids over-dehydration.
Ancient Methods Make a Comeback
An oldie but a goodie is the good old fashion massage. There’s no need to tell you all the benefits of this method and why it’s a favorite. Massages can be taken one step further by medical practitioners to perform joint manipulation, which can be invaluable to athletes as they improve mobility.
An ancient method that’s resurfacing is acupuncture. The old eastern practice of strategically placing needles to increase energy flow has inspired western medicine to come up with their method, known as dry needling. Contrarily, dry needles are placed directly on the problem areas and can be often paired with electrical stimulation. It is worth noting that the practice of dry needling has caused a bit of a controversy, so proceed with caution.
Another ancient method that’s coming back around is cupping. Michael Phelps sporting the bruises caused by this method in Rio served as unintentional advertisement. It’s a method that football players are recently starting to pick up on and is often paired in adjunct to a massage.