Benefits of Recovery for Football Players

It is no secret that football is one of the toughest sports to participate in. The physical demands of football push athletes' bodies to the limits whether in practice or game play. One major concern that tends to constantly come up within the football community is longevity. How can players last in the league; or for as long as they want playing the sport they love without the risk of a catastrophic injury? The answer is very simple, recovery. Adding recovery days to their routine can drastically reduce the chances of injury caused by teneditiis, lack of flexibility or lack of mobility.

There’s a huge emphasis on the hypertrophic aspect of strength and conditioning. Building muscle as quickly and efficiently as possible but many athletes tend to forget what “building muscle” on a physiological level really is. After you train, your body repairs damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process to form new muscle protein. These repaired muscle fibers increase in thickness and multiply to create muscle hypertrophy. However, this process takes time. What we tend to feel as “soreness” in our bodies, is really our bodies relaying down stronger muscle fibers. But the general mistake people tend to make is they continue their workout routine before a muscle has fully recovered. This puts your muscle at risk of injury because it has not fully replaced all muscle fibers that were damaged. Meaning, by definition, you will continue to rip apart muscle fibers without them having the time to repair.

Now let’s talk about injuries! On average, sprains and strains account for about 40% of injuries in American football (Saal et al.) Shoulder injuries are very common in elite collegiate football players, with one-third undergoing surgical procedures.(et al.) Shoulder injuries are more of a recurrence in quarterbacks and defensive backs while anterior instability was more common with defensive players. Linemen had more rotator cuff injuries and posterior instability than players in any other position. (Kaplan et al.)

At ELITE we offer a collection of different recovery techniques:

Dry Cupping - The benefits, in the athletic perspective, are that it increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This provides relief with muscle tension, muscle spasms and can improve overall blood flow that promote cell repair. An additional benefit in this process is that it may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)- PNF is a stretching technique utilized to improve muscle elasticity and has been shown to have a positive effect on active and passive range of motions.

Percussion Massage- Like a traditional massages, using a massage gun aims to reduce inflammation, relax tight muscles, break up scar tissue, adhesions, and minimize muscle soreness. Percussion massage is just as effective as traditional massage in preventing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Yoga- Uses different postures to strengthen, stretch and lengthening muscles providing an increase in ROM, joint mobility and joint stability.

For practitioners, the standard return to play criteria for any athlete include: full range of motion; normal strength; no joint swelling or instability; and the ability to run and sustain contact without pain. However, this may not always be the case for every athlete that returns back to their sport. Speaking as a former youth athlete myself, I was guilty of telling my Athletic Trainer that I felt 100% fine with no pain when it wasn’t always the case. Learn from my mistakes! The key to longevity in any sport is taking care of your overall wellness by training effectively and recovering efficiently. Contact us today to find out how our Performance and Recovery Specialists can help you #RECOVER!


Al-Bedah AMN, Elsubai IS, Qureshi NA, et al. The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action. J Tradit Complement Med. 2018;9(2):90-97. Published 2018 Apr 30. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003

Kaplan LD, Flanigan DC, Norwig J, Jost P, Bradley J. Prevalence and Variance of Shoulder Injuries in Elite Collegiate Football Players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2005;33(8):1142-1146. doi:10.1177/0363546505274718

Long, R. M. (2010). Key Muscles of Yoga: Your Guide to Functional Anatomy in Yoga. Chicago, IL: Independent Publisher.

Saal, J.A. Common American Football Injuries. Sports Med 12, 132–147 (1991).

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