The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day is about recovery during road trips. One unique aspect to the interuniversity season, as well as to other higher levels in soccer, is the amount of time spent traveling. Typically, university soccer will involve at least one long road trip, where players can be sitting on a bus for 6-7 hours. Sedentary activity (the type that occurs during long road trips) in athletes is a problem because blood can pool in the lower legs, which can lead to fatigue, soreness and a loss of strength and power. For optimal athletic performance, blood should not be allowed to pool in the lower legs, but rather should be circulated throughout the body as efficiently as possible.
One useful strategy I picked up from my friend and colleague, Paolo Pacione, who works as Fitness Coach with the Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer, is to use Recovery Skins, a type of compression pant, during travel. Compression pants apply light compression to the legs, which in turn promotes contraction of the smooth muscle in veins, pumping blood upwards and towards the heart. The heart can then redistribute the newly oxygenated blood throughout the body, including back through the leg muscles. This process, called venous return, has been proven to reduce metabolic by-products of exercise, and also to reduce perceived muscle soreness, in athletes. In any situation where athletes are traveling and will be in a seated position for more than 2-3 hours (including long drives and flights), lower limb compression through the use of Recovery Skins or other compression clothing is a great way to alleviate some of the negative effects that can occur.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.