How does a world-class player like Cristiano Ronaldo stay at the top of his game while playing 60 games a year?
The answer, according to the man himself, is a regimented post-match warm-down ritual.
While many players will go out celebrating (or commiserating) following a game, still reeling from the adrenaline of performing in a stadium of adoring fans, the Portuguese star prefers to head home to ensure his physical and mental wellbeing are maintained.
Ronaldo explained the importance of what he does after a game to Spanish sports newspaper AS:
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.
Here follows Ronaldo's post-match regime, as originally reported in AS.
When the final whistle blows, C-Ron gets straight to the task of replenishing lost nutrients and fluids.
According to AS, his post-match diet consists of fruit, a slice of pizza and "snacks rich in carbohydrates."
It may surprise you to hear that a professional athlete is chowing down on pizza straight after a match, but according to FourFourTwo magazine, the circular Italian feast can provide the perfect combo of carbs and protein for recovery.
As for the carb-rich snacks, one would speculate that these would include yoghurt, oatmeal and energy bars.
If Los Blancos are playing a home game, Ronaldo will waste no time in driving straight back to his mansion in the luxurious Pozuelo de Alarcon neighbourhood of La Finca (a plush Madrid suburb) to begin a bathing ritual.
The Portuguese star engages in a practise known as contrast bath therapy. First, he will spend around five minutes in a hot bath (somewhere between 38 and 44 degrees Celsius) before jumping into a cold bath for three minutes. This process is repeated for 30 minutes.
The idea behind the practise is to stimulate blood flow in areas of injury or strain, and to aid circulation. The process can also have an anti-inflammatory effect on any bruising he may have picked up.
AS refer to a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, which notes that this contrast therapy is the best method for immediate recovery.
After the potentially unpleasant contrast bath therapy, Ronaldo doesn't let himself relax and drift off to sleep. Instead, he will swim for 20 minutes.
Not only is swimming an ideal low-impact method of recovery training, but it is well-known for its stress-relieving and relaxation properties.
AS note that Cris will swim in complete silence, allowing him to go over key points in his performance and clear his mind.
Once he has emerged from the pool, Ronaldo will then hop into his spa to enjoy a blast from some high-pressure water jets.
There are plenty of studies that suggest this kind of hydrotherapy aids circulation to injured or inflamed muscles and joints.
Ronaldo's post-match regime is almost over, but not quite.
Finally, he will spend five minutes in a Turkish bath. Not only is this another form of hydrotherapy for his body, but it helps him calm down and relax after such an intense period of activity.
Many players complain that they cannot sleep well after games because of the adrenaline rush, but the Turkish bath will help his nervous system prepare for some shuteye.
Only after all of these fastidious steps is the Real Madrid star ready to go to bed—and start preparing for his next game.