Postmatch Recovery Practices Carried Out in Professional Football: A Survey of 56 Portuguese Professional Football Teams


Background: In football (ie, soccer), the effectiveness of recovery practices is critical to maintain high levels of performance, prevent residual fatigue, and reduce injury risk. However, the recovery methods that professional football teams put in place up to 72 hours postmatch are widely unknown.

Purpose: This study aimed to characterize the postmatch recovery practices in Portuguese football teams in different postmatch periods and match locations.

Methods: Portuguese football teams (total, N = 56; male: first league [n = 17], second league [n = 16], under-23 league [n = 12]; female: first league, n = 11) participated in the study. The practitioners in charge of recovery strategies in each team filled out the online questionnaire in the middle of the 2019–20 season. The questions focused on the type of recovery methods to be used at different times after home and away matches.

Results: After home matches, stretching, electrostimulation, active recovery, and massage were used with higher frequency (P < .017) in later postmatch periods (ie, 12–24, and 24–72 h) compared with immediately postmatch. After away matches, several differences were found (P < .017) for the stretching, electrostimulation, active recovery, cold-water immersion, massage, nutrition, and sleep between postmatch periods. Regarding match location, stretching (r = .19), active recovery (r = .39), cold-water immersion (r = .46), and massage (r = .29) showed a higher frequency of use immediately after home matches. Conversely, the use of compression garments (r = .27) was higher immediately after away matches.

Conclusions: It was concluded that in professional football, recovery methods are not applied uniformly along postmatch periods and differ depending on the match location.

Article published in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance on 24th February, 2022.