top of page
  • Writer's pictureLionel Pannunzio PT / SCS

Adult Soccer Players , Tips to recover faster from a Soccer Game

Why we got sore after Soccer Games ?

These are the changes our bodies go through after a match :

1️⃣ Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD)

Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) can be caused by novel or unaccustomed exercise and results in a temporary decrease in muscle force production, a rise in passive tension, increased muscle soreness and swelling, and an increase in intramuscular proteins in blood. In other words, there is some muscle damage from the activity and the muscle becomes tight and swollen and looses the capacity of producing force therefore you'll feel weak and stiff.

2️⃣ Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. This is the generalized pain in your legs from top to bottom you feel on Monday or Tuesday after a game.

3️⃣ Inflammation

Build up of fluids in the muscles and joints causing pain and edema

4️⃣ Fatigue

Strenuous activities requires long periods of concentration and focus leading not only to Physical Stress but also Psychological Fatigue.

To combat these changes occurring after a game there are certain things you can try to minimize these changes and promote a quick recovery.

1- Cold Water Immersion

This popular recovery modality is frequently used with team sport athletes during tournaments and back to back fixtures to reduce DOMS and fatigue.

❄️ Cold water immersion is effective during acute periods of match congestion in order to regain performance levels faster and repress the acute inflammatory process.

In order to be effective cold water immersion must be

Temperature : 11-15 °

Duration: 10-15 mins ⏰

Timing is very important, post game cold water immersion must be done ASAP, the sooner after the activity the better.

2- Have a Recovery Day

Incomplete recovery after a match might result in underperformance and injury.

The use of an aerobic activity like stationary bike , swimming or rowing the day after the game is another recovery strategy for soccer players.

The effect of increased circulation to the muscles during these activities

  • are loosen up stiff muscles and joints re-gaining mobility.

  • promote the delivery of nutrients for recovery of these tissues

  • removal of metabolite build-up helping with pain and soreness sensation

3- Get a Massage or Self-Myofascial Release ( Foam Roller - Lacrosse Ball - Massage Guns)

Massage has been shown to be the most powerful technique for recovering from DOMS & fatigue.

Some current techniques are Deep Tissue Massage or Sport Massage where you pay for a Massage Therapist to do the work

Another technique is to self administer the technique using some type of instrument to work on your muscles: muscle guns , foam rollers & lacrosse ball

Rolling the instrument over the painful or tight areas the next day after the competition is very important to prepare the muscles for new activity and restore muscle length and full joint movement

Foam Rolling 101

Self‐myofascial release (SMR) is a popular intervention used by both rehabilitation and fitness professionals to enhance myofascial mobility.

Common SMR tools include the foam roll and various types of roller massagers.

With foam rolling, the client uses their bodyweight to apply pressure to the soft tissues during the rolling motion.

Evidence suggests these tools can enhance joint range of motion (ROM), enhance the recovery process by decreasing the effects of acute muscle soreness, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS),and post exercise muscle performance.

Despite the popularity of SMR, the physiological effects are still being studied and no consensus exists regarding the optimal program for range of motion, recovery, and performance.

It has been postulated that ROM changes may be due to the altered viscoelastic and thixotropic property (gel‐like) of the fascia, increases in intramuscular temperate and blood flow due to friction of the foam roll, alterations in muscle‐spindle length or stretch perception.

Foam Rolling Technique

How long ?

The research suggests 30 sec to 1 minute (2 to 5 sessions) of foam rolling or roller massager for 5 secs to 2 mins (2 to 5 sessions) may be beneficial for enhancing joint flexibility

When ?

Use FR as a pre‐exercise warmup and cool down due to its short‐term benefits.

What is better, Foam Rolling or Stretching ? … well it depends …

Before a competition

Foam rolling (FR) has been demonstrated to acutely enhance joint range of motion (ROM) without decreasing muscle performance. On the other hand, Several Research papers, showed that static stretching does affect performance therefore Foam rolling is superior to static stretching before a Competition.

After the competition

A combination of foam rolling and static stretching seems to be the perfect duo for post-match recovery.


Scott W. Cheatham, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, Morey J. Kolber, PT, PhD, OCS, CSCS*D

Here you have some a video demonstration on how to use Foam Rollers in the main lower extremity muscles


  • There are many recovery strategies you can tap into to feel better quicker and be ready for the next game.

  • Cold Water Immersion , Foam Roller and Massage Guns are good inexpensive techniques to release muscle tightness and soreness

  • Classic Static Stretching should be left for after the activity

Lionel Pannunzio is a Physical Therapist Certified in Sports Injuries. With more than 20 years of experience helping athletes return to their sports after an injury. He is the Owner of White Bay Sports Physical Therapy and Fitness, conveniently located in the beautiful City of Weston, where he treats Soccer Player, Runners and Athletes of all ages

Finally we would like to invite you to follow us at our:

Facebook Page

Google Plus Page

Instagram Page

where you will receive information about your condition and other services we offer, always with the idea of keeping you healthy and fit to enjoy your favorite sport.

Lionel Pannunzio

Physical Therapist

8,513 views0 comments
bottom of page