Soreness. Most people know what it means. That ache that makes it nearly impossible to sit down following a tough workout. But what does this response from the muscles indicate about your players, and how do we as coaches facilitate the recovery from this state.
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First off, what is soreness? Soreness is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after a training session or a game.
It is an indicator of microscopic muscular damage. This muscular damage will cause players to have a temporary reduction in strength, muscle inflammation, protein breakdown, and stiffness.
Most of the soreness situations that we will deal with as coaches will occur following an exposure to a new stressor.
This could be one of the following:
An Increase in Training Intensity – Say for instance we change our Wednesday session from 9v9 conditioned games to 3v3 conditioned games. In a smaller-sided game with lower numbers, players are forced to perform more actions, which will cause more damage to the muscles. The body is not accustomed to this, and as a result, our players will feel soreness the following day.
An Increase in Training Volume – If we had a player who has only been playing a few minutes here or there, and suddenly they are needed to play 90 minutes because someone went down injured, they are very likely going to feel sore the next day.
Following an Extended Break - The first few sessions following a winter break or during preseason could cause players to feel more sore, because they will not have been playing football in the prior weeks before returning to train with the team.
Based on these categories, hopefully we’ll be able to identify why the soreness is occurring.
The next step is to begin the recovery process.
Typically, the soreness will be the worst on the 2ND DAY after the new stressor has occurred, so it’s important in the 24 hours following the session that we start the muscles recovery process with a recovery session.
Recovery sessions can be any type of session that increases bloodflow and doesn’t cause additional damage to the muscles.
I typically run a football recovery session which includes rondo’s (5v2s), passing patterns that are extensive (more rest between passes), and a larger sided game in a tight area with long rest periods. Additionally, you could also do fun games like bucket ball, as demonstrated by Man City here.
The day after the recovery session is when the body will be working the hardest to repair damaged tissue, so it is important that the players have this day completely off to rest.
If you are using SoccerPulse with your players, you can go into the Squad Status view and select "View Changes" to see if players are feeling better or worse from their prior report.
If you have multiple players indicating that they are more sore, you likely overloaded the team. Whereas if you only see one or two players complaining about an increase in soreness, you may want to just monitor those players individually to be sure they can keep up with the pace of the team.
Matt Danaher is the Creator of SoccerPulse. You can follow him at Twitter @mattdanaher