Devonta Freeman begins his recovery process with a massage on Monday morning. The goal: to keep his hips loose, as they’re key to his explosive change-of-direction ability. Forty-five muscle groups attach to your pelvis. Just one tight muscle can throw off your pelvic alignment, subtly changing the way you walk—or in Freeman’s case, wrecking his running stride. “It pulls my whole body the wrong way,” he says. A massage realigns his body, and it can do the same for you, too, as long as you don’t expect to relax. “My masseuse and I work together,” he says. “Lots of talking.” No masseuse on hand? Foam roll directly after your workout and the next day.
Then, Freeman jumps into a hot tub for five minutes, improving blood flow (which nourishes his fatigued muscles), then immediately jumps into a cold tub (around 50 degrees) for a few minutes to dull any remaining pain. He alternates between both tubs for 20 minutes. Called a “contrast bath,” the technique is used by many players to help relieve inflammation. Try it after your next backyard game.
After Monday-afternoon team meetings, Freeman heads home and busts out his Theragun, a power-tool-like implement with a lightly pulsating head. The sensation helps relax tight muscles, much like a massage. (This might be Freeman’s second or third round with the Theragun—he carries it around all day, sometimes using it in meetings.) He’ll typically target his hamstrings, running the tool along the backs of his legs for a few minutes.
On Tuesday, when players have the day off from practice, Freeman reboots his mind. He’s had several concussions throughout his career, and like many players, he realizes those incidents may have long-term effects. For the past two years, he’s visited a NeuroTracker facility to undergo what’s essentially a “workout” for the brain. Once there, he enters a dark room and looks at a large screen displaying several moving neon balls. His job: track two of them for a few seconds, then identify their locations. “The higher your score, the faster the balls move,” Freeman says. Game on.
Before hitting the field on Wednesday, Freeman warms up with a series of resistance-band drills. None of the drills will leave him feeling sore, he says, but that’s by design. “We’re just trying to get all the muscles to fire,” he says. On Thursday and Friday, it’s game planning, practice drills, and walk-throughs. And all of that has Freeman ready for his Sunday pounding.
Feeling tired legs after a tough day? Regain your strength with these drills from Freeman.
1) Thigh times.
Freeman focuses on relaxing his hamstrings, but he’ll use the TheraGun to loosen his quads, too. Don’t have one? Grab a foam roller, lie face-down, and place it on your thigh. Roll back and forth from thigh to knee, lingering on any tight spots you feel.
2) Home stretch.
Freeman loosens his ham-strings in a bevy of ways,including this go-anywhere stretch: Lie down. Loop a towel around your foot. Grab it with both hands. Straighten your leg, pulling it close to your torso. Stretch as far as is comfortable.