FOR every football manager and coach recovery is one of the most essential aspects of caring for your players.

But have you ever thought about recovery beginning during the performance itself?

The League Managers Association (LMA’s) Hydration Technical Partner Totum Sport – the world’s only 100% natural complete scientific solution – is working with the LMA to promote the need for recovery during performance, where bodies are at their most susceptible.

If you think about it, reparation of your assets shouldn’t just begin the moment the final whistle sounds – the process should be up and running once the game or training session kicks off.

As we reach the end of another gruelling season, the area of ‘Player Recovery’ is forefront in the minds of managers, where tiredness and fatigue contributes far greater to the vulnerability and injury of footballers.

By taking a view that your players should be in the best possible recovery place before the end of the game, will help with the period between games.

Nottingham Forest Manager Martin O’Neill is of the view that recovery during games is as vital as post match.

“Particularly at the end of the season when time is incredibly limited between games and players have no time to recover, it is imperative that people are empathetic to the professional athlete, particularly during the contest itself,” explained O’Neill.

“I think managers now more than ever are very aware of recovery and it’s a very important aspect of the modern game.”

O’Neill believes all managers are more aware than ever of the powers of nutrition and hydration, rather than just leaving it to the relevant staff within the club.

“It is imperative that you take an interest in hydration, dietary (requirements) and nutrition,” he explained.

“If you look at the Championship – which is a very demanding league – where teams play 46 league games, so players by the end are playing, resting, then playing and resting, and the time for technical work is unfortunately limited.”

So how much damage do players do during matches?

During a game players perform actions which induce muscle damage. This includes sprinting, changing direction, jumping and tackles. These muscle damaging actions can lead to a decrease of neuromuscular function after exercise and for several days.

Fatigue occurs temporarily after short intense periods in both halves; towards the end of the game and after the match. Fatigue may be a risk factor for injury as a lot of non-contact injuries occur during the latter stages of each half (Hawkins RD et al., 2001; Ekstrand et al., 2011).

The recovery time between two successive matches in a week due to a crammed schedule can be between 2 and 4 days. This may be insufficient time to restore normal homeostasis in the body and enable full recovery. Consequently, players may experience fatigue potentially leading to underperformance and/or injury. Injury incidence in professional football players playing the UEFA Champions League, is 6.2 times higher when two matches per week were played as opposed to one match in a week (Dupont et al. 2010).

A UEFA study found that muscle injury rates increased in matches with a recovery period of 4 days or less in comparison with a recovery of 6 days or more. As a recovery period from 2 to 4 days between two matches is insufficient and is associated with increased injury risk, this highlights the importance for improved recovery strategies to reduce injury rate and improve performance.

Muscle glycogen is the main source of energy production during a football match. With the depletion of muscle glycogen at the end of a match there is a reduction in high-intensity distance (Mohr et al., 2003). Minerals and trace elements can help to stabilise blood sugar levels and aid energy utilisation. This supports concentration, focus, and oxygen delivery to the muscles towards the end of training. Totum Sport provides all 78 minerals and trace elements in a bioavailable form and in the correct proportions so that each one can work optimally in the body.

Thirst and dehydration also contribute to fatigue, especially in the last quarter where there is almost a fluid loss of 2% initial body weight (Mohr et al. 2010). A net fluid loss of 2% initial body weight leads to a 10% loss in performance. By taking Totum Sport, the net fluid loss is reduced as the cells are more able to hold on to water. This has proven to aid hydration status so that the negative effects of dehydration on performance are significantly reduced.

The muscle inducing actions during a football match put stress on the muscle fibres and stretch the muscles. This contributes to post football match fatigue. Hydration in the body and connective tissue, increases elasticity of the muscles so that they can stretch more and the risk of injury decreases. Dehydration increases the risk of muscle cramp and injury. This is because with dehydration, the blood thickens causing it to move slower, not reaching the muscles in time and causing cramps. Starting a match fully hydrated and maintaining hydration throughout is therefore a key recovery strategy to reduce injury rate in players. Without the full spectrum of minerals and trace elements, complete hydration at a cellular level can’t be achieved and maintained.

Cognitive aspects during a football match can impact the player as well as the physical aspects. This mental fatigue can also contribute to post football match fatigue, altering cognitive function. Hydration plays an important role in cognitive function with even slight dehydration shown to make even daily tasks more difficult. Observational studies indicate that dehydration can impair concentration, increase irritability, and trigger migraines. By optimising the hydration status of a football player this supports focus, concentration and brain health.

Repetitive travel in footballers interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm which can lead to insomnia, fatigue and gut issues. This can also increase levels of stress for the player as the gut and brain are connected. Travel often includes a change in diet and and reduced fluid consumption. Dehydration due to travel has been shown to impair the immune system and have a negative effect on gut health which can consequently trigger stress for the player and negatively impact performance.  Whilst hydration strategies can be put in place e.g to drink more fluids, this is often difficult to achieve and maintain. Minerals and trace elements are a key component in supporting the immune system and the gut. In order to optimise hydration at a cellular level the full spectrum of 78 minerals and trace elements are required to hold water in the cells.

Whilst there are many recovery strategies, nutrition and hydration are proven to be most effective in accelerating the recovery process.

The strategy should include starting exercise hydrated, maintaining hydration during exercise and replenishing glycogen and water stores after exercise to support muscle damage repair.

Consuming Totum Sport and water accelerates fluid replenishment and muscle repair as the minerals and trace elements promote fluid retention, stimulate thirst while delaying urine production, and increase glucose absorption in the small intestine (Shireffs and Maughan, 2000).

Total hydration is entirely linked to recovery, and only Totum Sport can deliver all 78 electrolytes required for complete hydration, maintaining performance and concentration levels, eradicating cramp, and most importantly – improving recovery.