Post match recovery takes too long!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by lendledbergfan, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. lendledbergfan

    lendledbergfan Rookie

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    I've felt this for the last 2-3 months ever since I've started playing regularly (which means twice a week) that the post match recovery takes a long time.

    I played a long three setter (7-6 in the third, almost 2.5 hours) on Tuesday night (in decently cool conditions around 17-18C) and I can still feel a bit of pain and stiffness in my legs (its Thursday morning right now).

    What is the best way to make sure that the recovery takes less? Assume that I'm a recreational player who plays local league matches but does not have sophisticated techniques at my disposal.

    Here's my current routine:

    - Come 10-15 early to the match. Warm up for 10 minutes. Practice serves for 5 minutes
    - Play match. Carry enough water and keep myself hydrated during the match.
    - Have a power bar or two during the match. Sometimes I carry a banana.

    Post match: Light cool down and drive back home. Occasionally I put some cold packs on my legs, but not always.

    I'm a 3.25 player (definitely above 3.0 but not in the 3.5 league) where I do play some long rallies but pace is not that high.


    EDIT: I'm a 28yrs old male, ~170lbs (76kgs). I do some running in the gym 2-3 times a week, and some strength training (mostly at home).

    Thanks much!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
    #1
  2. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Do you eat A LOT after the match? I need to eat something like 1000-1500 kcal before I go to sleep after an intense training or a match...
     
    #2
  3. Drew_a_blank

    Drew_a_blank New User

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    Stretching after the match, as well as the day after should help. Also, more exercise! The better shape you are in, the quicker your recovery time will be.
     
    #3
  4. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    Focus on efficient footwork

    I am assuming you play singles more often. I have improved over the last few months from about your level to a strong 3.5. I don't feel as tired as I used to after playing matches. One reason I feel is because I am moving more efficiently now. I would recommend taking some classes from a local pro and tell him/her that you want to improve your footwork. Doing some shadow footwork drills on the court also helps. If you watch Federer, observe how he takes big steps and side shuffles most of the time. Also keep a low center of gravity by slightly bending your knees. The key is to not put your body in any awkward positions during any time of play.

    Of course, footwork is just one part. Working on core fitness is another important factor.
     
    #4
  5. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Sorry, but playing twice a week is far from "playing regularly". That's no where near enough for you body to look at a 2.5hour 3setter match like it was nothing.
     
    #5
  6. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    If your match is intense, you need to eat some proteins and carbs within the 30 or so minutes following your effort. The best cheap option? Chocolate milk. If not, you can go to a store which specializes in weight lifting and training supplements -- big bottles of powders you can mix with water, milk or else -- and ask them for something you could use after an intense training.

    In essence, you need to eat ASAP once you're done and you'll be OK.
     
    #6
  7. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    #7
  8. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    This! I'm always in big trouble if I dont eat at least 1000kcal within 1.5-2 hours after sessions. To get some of it ASAP, I mix protein and malto powders to water straight after the sessions, to get about 400 kcal.
     
    #8
  9. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

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    +1

    What other fitness do you do during the week? You need to get stronger.
     
    #9
  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    As you can see from my sig I'm a 3.0, so sort of in your competitive range. I have lots of vids posted here at TTW that you can check out.

    I'll, hopefully, be playing a league match every day for the next week or so. The only thing that sometimes is noticeably sore after a match is my hitting hand. I'm finding that the more I play, the more I'm able to play without soreness.

    My consumption during a match is about the same as yours, lots of water, a banana or two, maybe one of those flavored drinks. After, say, an evening match I eat meat and veggies till I'm full. An hour or so after that I drink a smoothie with spinach, berries, nuts and seeds. An hour or so after that I often take a nap. It's usually a great, deep sleep. Then I'm up till all hours of the night.

    When I get up in the morning I drink lots of water and do some chores, errands, yard work, or maybe a light workout. After that I eat a bunch of eggs and bacon. Drink some juice and coffee. A couple of hours after that I'll usually drink another smoothie. Then I'm usually itching to get out on the court again.

    If I have a morning or midday match then things are slightly altered but proceed in basically the same order.

    My unqualified opinion is that if you play and practice intensely more frequently, then you will have less of a problem with post match soreness.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
    #10
  11. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    It's not just about staying active throughout a week to get your body in shape. Yes, working out and exercising will get your body in shape, but it won't be in "game shape".

    It's very hard to mimic the explosive and repetitive movements/strains that happen in a tennis match (or any other competitive sport for that matter). All I can say is you've got to log in more court time. I can play back-to-back-to-back-etc. days and my body won't really feel anything, but I'm exhausted after a game of full-court basketball. That's because although I'm in shape, I'm not in basketball shape.

    If you want to feel alright after playing a 2.5hours 3setter, you've got to be able to log in at least 10 hours a week.
     
    #11
  12. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Add in one more day of just hitting. Keep the ball continuously in play - use at least 6 balls.

    Most tennis players enjoy this better than running, high intensity interval training, agility drills or going to the gym to get in better shape.
     
    #12
  13. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Agree with our pal charliefed above.

    Now that I'm 47, I'm doing more to stay ahead of things and I've taken on a couple of habits that have been substantially helpful for me. The first one is remembering to get a couple minutes of stretching done before I get into the car to drive home. Sounds like a very small thing, but it's been a huge help. I also stretch every night before I get into bed.

    I like to ride a bicycle for exercise and I racked up some miles through the months of May and June as I got back to some better off-court maintenance of myself. The difference I enjoy in both my endurance and recovery when the tennis work/play gets busy has been phenomenal. Tennis can generally bring a whole lot of pounding to our bodies, but a little deliberate work away from the courts (nothing heroic necessary) will add up in a hurry. The bike adds zero extra pounding to my legs, but helps me a ton if I get out maybe twice a week.
     
    #13
  14. The Isomotion31

    The Isomotion31 Semi-Pro

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    Foamroller and a light 2-3 mile jog the next day makes all my stiffness go away.
     
    #14
  15. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    Stretch a lot after play, before you sleep, when you wake up, and before the match. Also do what others said and get some calories in you after the match, more importantly protein.
     
    #15
  16. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I just eat a chili verde burrito and I'm good the next day.
     
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  17. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Why no one asked for the OP's age?

    If you are 80, just staying alive would give you pain and nothing you can do about it except taking pain medication and waiting to pass through that door. :)
     
    #17
  18. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    First question is your age and the second is do you do anything else than playing tennis twice a week. E.g. tennis training, gym, running, jogging etc.
     
    #18
  19. lendledbergfan

    lendledbergfan Rookie

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    Very valid question :). I'm surprised myself that I didn't post it when I posted all such details. Edited the OP.
     
    #19
  20. lendledbergfan

    lendledbergfan Rookie

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    Thanks everyone! Based on all your suggestions I'll start with

    - More protein intake after the match
    - More cool-down / stretching
    - Some light massage / cold packs
    - Light workout next day even if I feel stiff

    as short term fixes and

    - Play more regularly (though less possible given my routine)
    - Raise the bar on fitness!
    - Improve overall footwork / technique
    - Finish points like Federer :p

    as making my routine better over the long term.


    Thanks a lot guys!
     
    #20
  21. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Interesting, assuming you are not 6''8' your BMI is good, you are in you prime and you seem to be in a decent condition!

    3.0-3.5, that does not indicate explosive footwork action. It does not seem to be related to the running around the court because you run and I assume you do not have the same problem with running.

    Where is the pain and stiffness? In the calves?
    Any problems with the knees?
    How is your flexibility?
    What kind of court surface do you play on?
    Do you wear quality tennis shoes?

    Hmm, I see you opened another topic about being a slow starter.

    Perhaps your problem is that you only play matchplay tennis and nothing else. Playing matches is usually done with a different intensity than just practicing or hitting some balls.

    One thing to try would be to allocate some time doing hitting and practicing sessions, say twice a week.
    It may very be the case that your body, and legs in particular, will acclimatize better during matchplay once you do that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
    #21
  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    @ lendledbergfan,
    By the way, I forgot to mention that drinking beer is also part of my post-match recovery routine (but usually only for evening matches). I've found that the more beer I drink, the less I notice any aches or pains. :)

    I played a league match yesterday evening, one this evening, have one tomorrow morning at 7 AM, and another one at 4 PM. I won't be drinking any beer (more likely just eating and taking a nap) after the 7 AM match. Maybe not after the 4 PM match either, as I expect to have something lined up for Sunday also ... maybe even another two matches (then after that I'll take a day off, during which it's a good bet that I'll have a few beers at some point).

    Also by the way, it occurred to me that maybe my legs do feel a bit sore sometimes. But it's a really pleasant sort of soreness that I take as an indication that I'm getting stronger.

    Anyway, my honest opinion about your situation is that you're just not playing enough. Play more, and you will eventually ache less after matches.
     
    #22
  23. lendledbergfan

    lendledbergfan Rookie

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    Great questions! I'm learning a lot just by answering your questions.

    - I don't have any problems running. I do a mix of fast paced running (~7.5mph for 15 minutes in 5 min breaks + 1 min walk) or medium paced (6mph for 30 mins). No problems in those. Can run these on consecutive days without any problem.
    - No problem in knees (being a Rafa fan these days I am happy!)
    - The main pain point is in the hamstring area, and sometimes (rarely) in the calves
    - Flexibility is decent
    - Hard courts
    - Quality tennis shoes. But I can see that my feet are rugged up after playing with minor blisters (can't call them blisters, but not exactly great either). But these happen only in a long 2+ hr match. Not in my regular practice session (1hr)

    But I agree I need more practice sessions during the week other than match play.
     
    #23
  24. lendledbergfan

    lendledbergfan Rookie

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    haha.. I'm a teetotaller. No this is out of question :)

    Agreed with this!
     
    #24
  25. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Post match you should be in cool-down mode. If you want to shorten your recovery time you should be doing something like this:

    1. Immediately drink something to get you out of catabolic mode - chocolate milk is good for this as well as helping rehydrate you. Water is fine if that's easiest. Eat something (nuts, protein bar, banana)
    2. Go for a 15 minute light run/walk. This will reduce the recovery time on your legs massively. Take your drink with you if you can do both at the same time. Eat something if you can manage too (nuts, protein bar, banana)
    3. Do some light stretching of your legs/upper body.
    4. Then shower immediately. The sooner you can get out of hot & sweaty mode the sooner you can start cooling down completely. Hot = inflammation continues longer, which is the opposite of what you want after a long match. If you can handle it, finish with cold water on your legs. Cold = inflammation reduced/slowed quicker.

    Do the above within the shortest time - target is less than an hour.

    5. Then start eating and continue rehydrating while you do your full stretching. No need to go crazy on it - stretching per se doesn't aid muscle recovery all that much (it helps mainly for flexibility and injury prevention)
    6. Continue rehydrating for a couple of hours - a glass of water every half hour is fine.

    7. Next day walk if you can.

    Note: In the evening post-match don't do heat packs on tired muscles - not sure why people still think there is much benefit in this, there isn't if you're simply trying to recover. Watch TV with an ice pack - rotate it between any joints that hurt.
     
    #25
  26. Mikeplaystenniss

    Mikeplaystenniss Rookie

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    Basically this.
     
    #26
  27. Jay_The_Nomad

    Jay_The_Nomad Professional

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    I find my recovery gets better once my body gets used to higher intensity matches. I always get serious DOMS for the first match of the season often lastin 2-3 days before clearing up completely. But after a while it clears up within 24 hours.

    I find the best post match recovery method that works is water, banana and light static stretching every day (dynamic stretching before matches). The other really good thing is sleep. Your body is really good at repairing itself and sleep does many good things.
     
    #27
  28. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    If you're only playing two matches a week, it really should not take you very long to recover, esp. if you are 28.

    It sounds like you exercise regularly, in addition to playing.

    Age is not an issue, plus you are physically active. Perhaps your food intake? Too much? Too little? Not eating as healthy as you can?

    I'm grasping at straws here, but two matches a week at your age should not be terribly taxing.

     
    #28
  29. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    #29
  30. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    I'd also add in lots of fruit and veg post match/ work out.

    My normal diet is 600 grams of meat a day and a salad in the evening.
     
    #30
  31. LakeSnake

    LakeSnake Semi-Pro

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    Tom,
    I believe Thomas Kurz, in this book (http://www.amazon.com/Science-Sports-Training-Control-Performance/dp/0940149109) recommended or mentioning athletes drinking warm beer at some point. Details evade me....
     
    #31
  32. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    I play 4-5 times on the weekdays, around 2-3 hours each time on average. I drink a lot of water and take a banana or two to keep my energy levels up during a hit or match.

    After a long lay off the first couple of lessons I had made me so tired I vomited when I got home.

    Now, my post hit recovery involves a cigarette and a can of coke.

    But as I play more I get less aches and my body recovers enough to play hard the next day.

    I am over 40

    For me, tennis is my fitness. I am not advocating my post game recovery routine, but the fact I just get on court a lot trumps everything, in my book.
     
    #32
  33. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    I know a coach that swears by time in a cold lake or bathtub for recovery. Basically as cold as you can stand the water.
     
    #33
  34. Mike Hodge

    Mike Hodge Rookie

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    Post match recovery

    Stretch. Before the match and after the match and before you go to bed.

    Use a foam roller.


    Play more, but don't overdo it. If your body starts to get beat up, get a recovery day in there.
     
    #34

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