How Past and Present Women Soccer Stars Approach Recovery
Mar 15, 2023
Despite women in soccer facing higher injury rates than men, they are tough as nails when it comes to handling injuries. Some of the greatest women to ever grace the pitch have suffered some brutal injuries, but overcame them finely, and their recovery protocol is a big reason for this. This post will examine these superstars and what they have to say about recovery from injuries.
Calling Alex Morgan a powerhouse is an understatement. She’s done it all as a forward for the San Diego Wave and USWNT. Aside from World Cup victories, she became the NWSL top scorer and the twenty-seventh player in history to make 200 appearances. She’s steadily become a face of the league.
However, it hasn’t been an easy climb. She’s dealt with her share of knee and ACL injuries, some of which sidelined her altogether. Now thirty-three, she prioritizes recovery more than ever, a move that’s kept her in top shape and on top of injuries.
Soccer injury and recovery profile
- Injuries suffered: Hamstring, ankle, knee, ACL injuries
- Recovery protocol: Eight to nine hours of sleep, plant-based diet, leg stretches (hip-opening stretches), daily foam rolling, deep tissue massage, early morning hydration, and meditation.
It’s safe to say Crystal Dunn doesn’t have much left to prove. She has won both the NWSL Golden Boot and MVP awards at twenty-three, making her the youngest to do so. Dunn is also a dangerous attacker and playmaker, able to use the tiniest spaces to create big-scoring opportunities. She’s dealt with some injuries along the way, but her recovery protocol has helped her outmuscle them like a boss.
- Injuries suffered: Ankle and knee injuries
- Recovery protocol: Percussion gun therapy, running drills, taking short breaks
We could dedicate an entire post to Megan Rapinoe and her achievements, but we’ll make a shortlist. She’s made 199 appearances for the USWNT, is a two-time FIFA World Cup winner, an Olympic medalist, a two-time ESPY Award winner—we said “shortlist,” so we’ll cut it there. Aside from her now legendary status and persona off the pitch, Rapinoe is a figure to imitate because of her recovery protocol. She’s endured some nasty injuries, but knows a thing or two about overcoming them with the right strategies.
Injury and recovery profile
- Injuries suffered: ACL injuries (three)
- Recovery protocol: Compression garments, aquatic therapy, Epsom salt bath, sleep, stretching
She may be retired, but Carli Lloyd is a generational icon in women’s soccer—and for good reason. A two-time Olympic medalist, two-time FIFA World Cup Champ, and two-time FIFA Player of the Year, Lloyd has done it all. She has appeared in 316 games for the USWNT, with 134 international goals under belt among a list of other brag-worthy achievements. Injuries did affect her throughout the years, but her improved recovery tactics helped her to play to the cusp of forty.
Injury and recovery profile
- Injuries suffered: Broken ankle, knee and shoulder injuries
- Recovery protocol: Bodyweight exercises and soccer-specific running drills, ice baths, adequate sleep and hydration, massage, organic protein-rich diet with low sugars, energy management during games
Our thoughts on recovery for women’s soccer
Recovery is a must for serious soccer players, and women especially should prioritize it. We’ve discussed before how women have an increased risk of leg injuries due to things like the Q-angle and hormonal profiles. Add grueling schedules in the mix, and those anatomical differences create a perfect storm for nagging injuries.
Recovery is the ultimate defense against injuries. The right protocols help muscles repair and heal faster, so they can perform better on a continual basis. So learn from and follow the greats—their recovery protocols are a big reason why they’re great in the first place.
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