Beyond the call of duty: Cristiano’s post-match ritual
The forward's extraordinary performance levels are maintained through a strict and exhaustive, after-hours training regime.
"Recovery is more important to me than actual training sessions due to the large number of games I have to play. Winding down and resting is a key part of my day-to-day routine and enables me to perform to the highest level in my profession and prolong my career". Cristiano Ronaldo, in his own words, explained the secret behind his extraordinary work rate. A rigid and diligent work ethic - one which he puts into practice immediately after all of Real Madrid's matches, is what helps Cristiano to maintain his stamina maintains his fitness level over the course of the campaign. It was those after-hours workouts which kept him fresh enough to head the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona after 102 gruelling minutes out on the pitch at Mestalla and which also have allowed him to hit 69 goals in 59 games in 2013.
After every match, Cristiano doesn't go for dinner, or drinks with family or friends. This is the time when he puts in a personal, extra training session. First of all, he will have a small bite to eat at the stadium and replenish lost fluids by drinking liquids - post-match food consists of fruit, a slice of pizza and snacks rich in carbohydrates.
If Madrid are playing at home, Cristiano will drive straight back to his house where he will begin with a session of hot and cold baths. According to the International Journal of Sports Medicine, these alternate hot and cold baths are the best method of recovering immediately after competition.
Cristiano will begin by stepping into a hot bath (between 38 and 44 degrees Celsius) and after a five-minute soak, he will then bathe for a further three minutes in a cold bath. This cycle is repeated for half an hour. It's a method which stimulates blood flow, aids circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on any bruising he may have picked up during the match.
Following this, the player will work out for 20 minutes, swimming in the pool. Outside of football, swimming is one of his favourite sports and one which he practices almost every day. In complete silence, this 20-minute swim helps Cristiano to go over events from the game and clear his mind.
Once out of the pool, CR7 will hose himself down with jets of water at high pressure to further aid circulation. The Madrid ace is accustomed to getting a minimum of eight hours' sleep per night but just like anyone else, he struggles to fall straight to sleep on a match night. After a game, he will usually have a Turkish bath for five minutes - the effects of the steam having a calming effect on the nervous system and helping him to thoroughly relax. Once his post-match ritual is over, Cristiano is ready for his next game with Real Madrid.