The Secrets to Kyle Rudolph’s NFL Recovery Routine
There’s a reason that one of the biggest rumors of the NFL offseason was the New England Patriots’ pursuit of tight end Kyle Rudolph. And why the Minnesota Vikings ended the speculation by offering him a four-year extension that the former Notre Dame standout readily accepted. He’s a superstar on and off the field. Today Kyle, who’s the latest addition to our Momentous Athlete Roster, gives you an insider’s look into the recovery routine that keeps him playing at the highest level.
What's something that you have learned about yourself over the past few seasons that you wish you'd known coming into the league almost 10 years ago as a rookie?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned what my body needs to go out and compete each and every Sunday. As a young player, you don't know what you need to do to take care of yourself. You don't know what you need to do to recover. You don't know what you have to do throughout the course of a season to repair yourself over the five-month long grind that is the NFL football season.
As a rookie, if your team goes to the Super Bowl, you play 24 games. Four preseason games, 16 regular season games, and four playoff games. That's two full college seasons. The most difficult thing that you've gone through before is a 12-game college football season. So what you have to do to prepare yourself throughout the off season cannot be the same. And then, what do you need to do in-season to stay healthy? What do you do from Sunday when the game ends until the next Saturday night before you go to bed? Going into my ninth year, I've developed a routine that works for me.
Can you give us a peek inside that routine?
Sunday: The most grueling thing is if we’ve played a night game on the West Coast and gotten back to the Twin Cities at 4:30 or five in the morning. That means I’ve lost out on almost 12 hours of recovery time compared to playing a home game at noon. So I have to do the best I can to recover. After the game, I get in a cold tub if possible. If I can hop in the cold tub and ice down everything right away, it helps with my immediate recovery.
Monday: I keep my recovery going Monday morning. As soon as I arrive at the facility, I get a workout in. A lot of people wonder how sore we are when we wake up on Monday morning. They expect us to be crushed after the game. But on Monday morning you still feel decent. You still have a little bit of the adrenaline in your system. It's Tuesday morning that really hits you. So for me, I try to get as much work done as I can on Monday, when I still feel pretty good, to immediately start that recovery process. After our team meetings, I'll go through a movement and mobility workout that’s more band-oriented than usual to help groove the main movement patterns. Usually I end the day with a massage.
Tuesday: This is my acupuncture day. The game has caught up with me so now I’m feeling sore and stiff, and usually don’t get a hard workout in. So the acupuncture helps me continue my recovery. I’ve definitely noticed that soft tissue work, massage, and acupuncture make a big difference.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: These are practice days. Usually by Wednesday after practice – once I get moving around again – my body seems to start feeling good again.
Saturday: The day before the next game, we just have a walk through, and don't really do anything to get our heart rate up or break a sweat. I try to do a quick little workout that’s very low intensity, just to make sure that my nervous system doesn't shut down for a whole day.
Sunday: It’s game day!
What do you do in the evening to help you get good sleep?
The hardest is definitely after a night game. When we play at home or on the road at noon, the game's over by 3:00 or 3:30. And I have six to seven hours to wind down and relax, and then get ready for bed. When you play at 7:30 and the game's not over until 10:30, I get back to my house around midnight, and I’m still pretty amped up from the game. So that's not as easy in terms of getting relaxed and calmed down. But I still always try to do the best I can to get a really good night's sleep the night after a late game.
For me, the key is getting consistent sleep throughout the week. You can’t get away with having a 9:30 PM to 5:00 AM sleep cycle Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then all of a sudden on Friday night, staying out till midnight. I try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night of the week. Obviously when we're traveling on Sunday or getting back late after a game, that's a little more difficult.
With those late home games and away games, how do you wind down afterwards?
If it's an away game, I have the flight back to relax and wind down. With evening home games, it's a little more difficult because I’m back home just a couple of hours after the game ends. I usually hang out with family and friends. But you know, there's no real substitute for just laying your head down on your pillow and trying to relax and fall asleep.
What part does protein play in your recovery process?
With supplements, I used to believe that if it tasted good, then it wasn't good for you. And if it was good for you, it didn't taste very good. And then, as I got older, I started to do food sensitivity testing through blood work twice a year. Last August, whey protein showed up as a food sensitivity for me. I had a moderate intolerance, so I cut it out of my diet completely. Trying to find a plant-based protein that's good for you and tastes halfway decent was near impossible. And then Uye recommended AbsoluteZero from Momentous. I tested that, tried it out, and I've fallen in love with it. With protein, it’s hard to find something that is good for you and tastes good, too. So when you hit both of those, you’ve got a great product.
How does AbsoluteZero fit into your day?
A lot of times when you just mix a powder with water, it doesn't blend very well and can be clumpy. And it doesn't taste as good as if you mix it with milk. But that's not the case with the Momentous product. I can mix it with eight ounces of water and it tastes just as good as if I mix it with eight ounces of skimmed milk. Often when I'm finished with my workout, I need to make a shake quickly and we're getting ready to go into a team meeting, or I'm going somewhere else. So to be able to just throw a couple of scoops in water and still have it taste good is huge.