Whether it’s a long tournament, hot summer camp, or competitive playoff game, lacrosse is tough sport that can leave your muscles feeling depleted after 60+ minutes of play. If you’re looking to stay healthy and injury-free all season long, it’s important to take care of your body and recover while you’re off the field (especially if you’re practicing hard with the best lacrosse training aids). Luckily nowadays, we have a plethora of innovative methods to aid in recovery for athletes. In this article we curated the best recovery methods for lacrosse athletes looking to stay in top shape and perform their best on the field.
The first is simple – rehydrate. After a game, our body’s are severely depleted of electrolytes. Instead of rehydrating with Gatorade – which is chock full of sugars and high fructose corn syrup – pour a pack of hydration powder into your water bottle. It’s simple and refuels your body with essential micronutrients. Hydration packs typically include 3x the amount of electrolytes than a regular sports drink. They’re simple, effective, and refuel your body with essential micronutrients.
2) Recovery Footwear
Tell me there’s no better feeling than untying your cleats and slipping on slides after a game. Foot soreness is one of the top issues that players struggle during summer camps and long tournaments. Tons of top athletes – especially in the running world – are obsessed with recovery-specific slides (especially the ones made by Hoka and OOFOS).
Regular slides offer zero added benefits to your feet, other than freeing up your toes from the constrictive cleats. Recovery slides on the other hand are designed with a forward-thinking footbed, which reduces stress on knees, ankles, and other joints, and an ergonomic material that is extremely comfortable for your feet.
3) Massage Gun Sore Muscles
Every household containing athletes should own a massage gun. Massage guns offer a ton of recovery benefits to your body at you’re missing out on. Some include:
- Increased blood circulation – which supplies oxygen and nutrients to repair muscle groups.
- Improved muscle endurance, power, and kinesiology – according to a 2014 study, vibration therapy improves muscular performance while decreasing delayed onset muscle soreness.
- Prevents injury (& re-injury) – Tom Brady gets a personal massage everyday to keep his muscles pliable – a major ingredient to his longevity as an athlete. That is due to the fact that massages can recuperate atrophied muscle tissue and improve muscle flexibility. While we all might not have a personal masseuse on hand, athletes can provide similar therapy to their muscles with a massage gun.
4) Foam Roll
For similar reasons to massage gun therapy, foam rolling can ease muscle pain and soreness. The secret sauce of foam rolling comes from the fact that your own bodyweight is applying controlled pressure to certain muscle groups. This is fantastic for larger muscle groups such as your glutes, hamstrings, IT band, and back.
5) Ice Bath/Cold Plunge
Ice baths are used by nearly every professional athlete and division 1 athlete, but are they really necessary at the high school level? In short, yes. If you’re serious about your athletic performance, cold therapy has a host of health benefits ranging from muscle recovery to increased energy levels. Let’s jump into a few advantages you’ll receive from just 5-10 minutes of ice bathing:
- Increased energy levels – Norepinephrine increases during cold exposure.
- Improved resilience to stress – Similar to how our body’s release heat shock proteins during sauna usage, our body’s releases cold shock proteins during cold therapy. While uncomfortable at first, this oxidative stress forcing our body to adapt and become more resilient.
- Faster physical recovery – When you jump into the cold, your blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow from your extremities and forcing them to your vital organs. When you get out of the ice bath, your blood vessels dilate and pump increased oxygenated blood flow to your muscle groups – improving recovery.
If you don’t have a tub for ice baths, there are a ton of cold plunge tubs available today for athletic recovery.
6) Active Recovery
Active recovery is is the idea of performing low-intensity exercise on your rest days. Instead of remaining sedentary on your day off, active recovery is meant to increase blood flow, reduce soreness, and keep your muscles loose. Because lacrosse is a such a foot-intensive and back-intensive sport, I would avoid jogging or swimming. The best forms of active recovery for lacrosse players are a stationary bike, assault bike, yoga, or light swimming.
Active recovery isn’t meant to be strenuous or demanding in any capacity. Nearly every top-level Crossfit athlete performs active recovery, due to its ability to expedite muscle recovery.
7) Non-Alcoholic Beers
If you’re a follower of the Premier Lacrosse League, you’ve likely seen the non-alcoholic beer company, Athletic Brewing, as one of the league’s top sponsors. Non-alcoholic beer 🍺 is emerging as a popular health & wellness trend amongst athletes and health-conscious individuals all over the world. For athletes looking to celebrate a big win without enduring the negative effects of alcohol consumption, you can enjoy a savory, malty “N/A” beer, which often includes electrolytes in some of the top brands.
Because non-alcoholic beer includes 0 to negligible amounts of alcohol, it can even be sold to individuals under 21 in most states.
8) Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape is therapeutic tape strategically applied to the body to provide support and reduce pain and swelling. It is believe that kinesiology tape gently lifts your skin, providing microscopic space between your skin and the muscle tissues beneath it. Even though the space created is slight, this helps alleviate joint irritation. If you’re dealing with weak muscles or joints, this is a great method to aid in the recovery of those specific areas.
9) Normatec Compression Therapy
Compression therapy is a cutting-edge recovery system that uses a pulsing effect to help athletes flush lymphatic fluids and lactic acids from their muscles. Tons of other benefits include:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved circulation
- Removes toxins and lactic acid from muscles
- Accelerated recovery and rehabilitation
- Prevents delayed onset muscle soreness
Compression therapy isn’t new to sports. For example, a compression knee sleeve is worn by many athletes to squeeze the area and force blood and fluid away. Think of Normatec compression therapy as the next evolution in compression science. Instead of a static squeeze, Normatec compression features an intermittent, pulsing effect to mimics natural blood flow in the area.
10) Muscle Stimulation Therapy
Muscle stimulation therapy is traditionally used in physical therapy and rehabilitation settings, but has quickly become a best kept secret among elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Similar to compression therapy, electric muscle stimulation is designed to mimic natural muscle contraction, which in turn enhances blood flow to the muscles and brings fresh oxygen and nutrients into the muscle fibers while flushing away harmful toxins.
The great thing about electric muscle stimulators is that you can apply it to any muscle group on your body that needs recovery at that moment, unlike Normatec compression sleeves.. When choosing muscle stimulators, Compex is the go to brand for athletes.
11) Protein Shakes
If you’re a high school athlete looking to make varsity, you need to drink protein shakes in the offseason. The best protein shake for athletes trying to put on muscle in the offseason is Jocko Molk, a grass-fed whey protein powder that contains tons of amino acids, digestive enzymes, and sugar-free flavors.
Little known fact – many great lacrosse players initially struggle at the high school level due to the fact that they are physically smaller than other athletes. Some athletes are late bloomers. Look at Rob Pannell – one of the great lacrosse players of all time. He took a post-grad year of high school because he was physically underdeveloped and struggled to get recruited by a D1 school. Part of his on-field dominance now comes from the fact that he has put on mass, strength, and power. Want to elevate your game? Be like Rob, get jacked.
12) Iron Neck Training
This one might sound obscure, but iron neck training is becoming wildly popular amongst athletes. Many concussions in sports are caused by the neck snapping back and the brain slamming against the skull. As a result, we have seen devices like “cowboy collars” in football and now the Q-collar emerge in lacrosse. But one interesting alternative is strengthening the neck as a whole. The Iron Neck is the #1 neck strengthening device that has amazing benefits for athletes:
- Prevents whiplash/concussion
- Increases range of motion/flexibility
- Reduces neck and back pain
Spending just a few minutes a day with the Iron Neck can do wonders for your neck strength and prevent serious, life-altering injuries.
Last but not least…stretch! This one goes without saying, but it’s imperative to stretch after playing. Calf tightness and cramping is one of the most common injuries you’ll see in lacrosse. Stretching reduces the risk of injury and aids in recovery by decreasing muscle tension, boosting flexibility, and increasing blood flow.
If you’re an athlete plagued with soreness or continual re-injury, it could be due to neglecting your recovery process. There are dozens different ways to recover from a lacrosse game, tournament, camp or practice. From Normatec compression therapy to kinesiology tape. If you’re looking to take care of your body and get an edge on your competition I’m sure you will find something in this list that you will love to implement off the field.