Tips From the Top: Recovery is Key

In preparation for Uefa Women's Euro 2009, the England players adapted strict recovery methods, writes FA Exercise Scientist Dawn Scott.

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This level of preparation enabled them to perform consistently in the six matches in Finland on their way to the Final. This takes huge commitment from the players as they strive to perform on the elite international stage, as many of them combine this with jobs, university, family and children. If you want to emulate even some of their success, this is one tip, to help you on your way...

Top Fitness Tip: Recover to be Ready!

You must help your body to recover following hard training sessions and matches, so that you are ready to go harder in your next session! The more recovery methods you can use, the quicker you will recover and the better your next training session will be.

Make sure you do a cool down, which includes 5-10 mins slow jogging, and a little dynamic and static stretching (don't hold stretches for more than 10 seconds, this can make muscle damage worse) and follow tips highlighted in our 'Fitness' section.

The England players have compression garments - socks and tights - that pump the blood round the body quicker, getting rid of the waste from the muscles, as well as giving them new energy and oxygen. They can be seen walking around the hotel displaying their dodgy fashion sense, with tights on and shorts over their tights!

The players' other favourite recovery method are ice baths. This again speeds up the blood pumping round the body, removing waste and replenishing energy and oxygen supplies. It also has a cooling effect. After the Holland game, the players couldn't wait to get into the ice bath in the changing rooms!

Following a shower, they all put on their recovery socks or tights, then it's back to the hotel for a high carbohydrate and high protein dinner.

The final, important, part of your recovery is relaxation (by reading, listening to music, watching a film or TV) and sleep. Sue Smith and roomie Jess Clarke enjoyed sleeping too much and missed an early gym session, one day, through over-sleeping! If you do not have enough sleep (less than eight hours), then your body and muscles do not have enough time to recover and you will get tired during your day and during training.

"I love my tights and always sleep in them after a hard training session and match, and wake up the next day with new legs!" Lindsay Johnson

"I love to sleep and try to make sure I sleep for 9-10 hours most nights, as then I feel fresher the next day." Sue Smith

Pictured: Joker Jill Scott, playing a game of table tennis during time off in Finland, Sept, 2009. Please note: stuffing material down yer tights to make yer bum look massive, is purely optional and of no tangible benefit to the recovery boosting properties of the tights.

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