To remain healthy and at your peak throughout the season, it’s important for baseball players to prioritize recovery after every game. Whether you’re a professional, in the minor leagues, or play recreational baseball as a hobby, post-game recovery will help protect your muscles, joints, and tendons to prevent injuries and downtime.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can help your body bounce back after a game using tried and tested recovery techniques. First, let’s talk about why post-game recovery is so important.
Since childhood, we’ve been taught that warming up before a game is imperative for optimal performance. However, giving your body time to rest and recover after a physically demanding game is equally important. Strenuous exercise without recovery is counterproductive, and both warm-ups and recovery periods are vital for a healthy body. After a game or intense workout, your muscles sustain minor damage and tiny tears that often cause soreness in the hours and days afterward. Without a proper recovery routine, your body will not have the time or tools it needs to repair the damage and build muscle.
Continuously pushing your body to its limits is incredibly taxing. Without proper recovery, this will eventually take an enormous toll on your overall health and athletic performance. Persistent muscle aches and weakness will impede your ability to perform at your highest potential. Giving your body the time it needs to recover and repair itself after a game will ensure that you rarely have to miss a workout or a game and help you progress as an athlete.
How many times have you read about an athlete retiring early due to recurring injuries? If you love the game and want to spend as many years playing as you can, caring for your body should be a top priority. When you don’t give yourself the time to recover from the stress of a demanding game, your body will deteriorate at a more rapid pace. Overuse baseball injuries and chronic aches and pains will take you out of the game and prematurely end your baseball career.
The good news is you don’t have to be destined to live with chronic injuries or pain. Incorporating recovery into your post-game routine will help keep your body running like a well-oiled machine to keep you active and healthy for many years to come.
Strength building is the key to becoming a more dynamic baseball player. However, it is during the recovery period that your body builds muscle and strength. Since strenuous exercise breaks down the muscles, giving yourself adequate time to recuperate will help maximize the benefits you get from all your hard work out on the field. Recovery leads to strength development, which then leads to more progress and better overall performance.
Dealing with chronic injuries and lackluster performance can take an enormous toll on your mental health over time. All athletes know that being unable to perform at your highest potential will make you feel defeated. When you’re constantly battling a slew of aches, pains, and injuries, you’re unable to achieve your goals.
Post-game recovery and injury prevention is crucial for good mental health and clarity. The better your mental health is, the more powerful you’ll be as an athlete.
There are two different types of recovery: active recovery and passive recovery. Which option you choose will depend largely on how you feel that day, and your unique needs and goals. Each option will help enhance your circulation, range of motion, and flexibility, and keep your muscles primed for the next big game.
Active recovery uses restorative, low-intensity exercises to help your muscles recover after more strenuous exercise, such as an intense baseball game. Active recovery helps your body remove lactic acid and metabolic waste that accumulates during exercise and increases the blood flow to your muscles.
By increasing the blood flow to your muscles, active recovery helps relieve tension, stabilizes your muscles, minimizes delayed onset muscle soreness, and expedites the healing process. On game days, you should aim for between 10 and 15 minutes of active recovery. Between games, you should spend anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes doing active recovery exercises.
After a game, you may feel compelled to lie down immediately out of sheer exhaustion. While this sounds wonderful in the moment, the truth is that you should keep moving to gradually cool down. For example, you may consider taking a short 10-minute walk at a moderate pace to allow your heart rate to come down slowly and keep your muscles activated for a few extra minutes.
Between games during rest days, you’ll want to avoid strenuous activity and opt for a low-intensity exercise instead just as biking, swimming, or yoga.
Although passive recovery isn’t always appealing for active athletes, it does have its benefits and a rightful place in your fitness routine. If you had a particularly intense game, or your muscles are feeling fatigued and sore, this is the time to use passive recovery techniques such as ice baths, a sauna, massage, foam rolling, or getting some extra high-quality sleep. Ideally, you should be sleeping between 7-9 hours per night before and after game days. It is during sleep that blood flow to your muscles increases, delivering much-needed oxygen and nutrients which promote muscle growth and repair.
These full rest days are essential for good health, injury prevention, and optimal athletic performance.
Proper recovery can’t happen unless you give your body the tools it needs to heal and bounce back. Refueling with protein and carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores, restore your energy, and give your body the resources it needs to repair your muscles and minimize soreness.
A plant-based diet could help improve your recovery time, as they are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are an essential source of energy for baseball players, and a plant-based diet contains a wide range of carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes, and fruits such as bananas, apples, and berries. Contrary to popular belief, you can also get sufficient amounts of protein on a plant-based diet. Nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, beans, and chickpeas are all great sources of protein
Engaging in strenuous exercise during a game puts your body under stress, which leads to inflammation. Since plant-based diets are anti-inflammatory, they can aid in your recovery by minimizing the muscle damage and soreness that often follows big games. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to go 100% plant-based to take advantage of the benefits. However, putting whole, plant-based foods at the center of your diet will fuel your body with key nutrients to speed up your recovery.
In addition to refueling your body with the right foods, it’s important to prioritize hydration during the recovery process. Ideally, you should drink before, during, and after a game over several hours to maintain optimal hydration. Fluids help transport nutrients to your cells, flush out toxins, and reduce muscle tension and soreness after a game. Water, electrolyte beverages, coconut water, and protein shakes are all great ways to boost your hydration and aid in your recovery.
Recovery is essential for peak athletic performance. Taking just a few extra steps after games will help minimize soreness, maximize muscle repair and growth, and optimize your performance on the field.
To achieve peak performance, baseball players must prioritize post-game recovery. Recovery techniques are vital in protecting the body from injury, aiding in strength development and preventing chronic pain. Recovery has a direct impact on an athlete's mental health, as lackluster performance can lead to feelings of defeat. Active recovery and passive recovery are the two types of recovery, both of which help in increasing blood flow, relieving tension, and expediting healing. In addition, proper nutrition is important for refueling the body, restoring energy, and replenishing glycogen stores. Incorporating post-game recovery into your routine will ensure that you remain healthy, active, and performing at your best.
Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.
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