We asked Cowboy’s High Performance Manager, Paul Bowman to give us some insight into how Rugby League players recover after a game.

Post-match muscle recovery is a crucial part of any athletes training routine. Therefore, it is important that coaches and performance staff ensure that their athletes follow the best muscle recovery strategies possible. The key aim of each of the strategies below is to prevent injury and reduce post match muscle soreness enabling the athlete to train again sooner.

Medical Assessment

Immediately post-match the players are assessed by the medical staff to establish any injuries.  The standard response to injury applies – RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) – and alcohol is off limits for any injured players.

Active Recovery

Players who are not injured do an active recovery session post-match and again the next day. An active recovery includes some low-intensity activities to help get blood circulating to the muscles. The Cowboy’s usually do low intensity cardio for 10 minutes (eg. Stationary bike, walking on treadmill, low intensity rowing ergometer or upper body grinder for players with lower leg injuries) and 10 minutes of stretching (including all major body parts – hamstrings, quads, glutes, lower back, calves, shoulders)

Ice Bath

The players finish with 10 minutes in the ice bath at about 14 degrees. The low temperature ice water stimulates the player’s muscle cells to start repairing and helps to reduce muscle swelling and soreness while also flushing lactic acid out of the body. After an ice bath, the muscle tissue warms up and oxygenated blood returns to the muscle to further assist muscle recovery.

Nutrition & Hydration

Another major concern for players post-match is ensuring that they get quality nutrition and hydration to regain weight that may have been lost during the match. For this reason, players are weighed pre and post game and also at the recovery session the following day. They are expected to be within 500g of the pre-game weight at the recovery session the day after the match.

To optimise muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness the Cowboy’s use Vitalstrength WPI+ and L-Glutamine immediately post-match and also at recovery the next day to further aid muscle recovery. Player’s that have difficulty maintaining weight after a game use Vitalstrength Rapid Protein as it is higher in carbohydrates and helps to get the maximum amount of refuelling calories in post-training. Players are also encouraged to take Biolic5 Recovery once per day to prime the body with muscle recovery nutrients leading up to a game.