Neuromuscular responses to impact and collision during elite rugby league match play
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the prematch and short-term postmatch neuromuscular responses to the intensity, number, and distribution of impacts associated with collisions during elite Rugby League match play.
Twenty-two elite male Rugby League players were monitored during 8 regular season competition matches using portable global positioning system (GPS) technology. The intensity, number, and distribution of impact forces experienced by players during match play were recorded using integrated accelerometry. Peak rate of force development (PRFD), peak power (PP), and peak force (PF) were measured during a countermovement jump on a force plate 24 hours prematch, 30 minutes prematch, 30 minutes postmatch and then at 24-hour intervals for a period of 5 days postmatch. The change in the dependent variables at each sample collection time was compared with that at 24 hours prematch and 30-minute prematch measures.
There were significant (p < 0.05) decreases in PRFD and PP up to 24 hours postmatch with PF significantly (p < 0.05) being decreased 30 minutes postmatch. Significant (p < 0.05) correlations were found between the total number of impacts and PRFD and PP 30 minutes postmatch. Impact zones 4 (7.1–8.0 G), 5 (>8.1–10.0 G), and 6 (>10.1 G) were significantly (p < 0.05) correlated to PRFD and PP 30 minutes postmatch with the number of zone 5 and 6 impacts significantly (p < 0.05) correlated to PRFD and PP 24 hours postmatch. Elite Rugby League match play resulted in significant neuromuscular fatigue and was highly dependent on the number of heavy collisions >7.1G.
Results demonstrate that neuromuscular function is compromised for up to 48 hours postmatch indicating that at least 2 days of modified activity is required to achieve full neuromuscular recovery after elite Rugby League match play. Position-specific demands on energy systems and the influence of repeated blunt force trauma during collisions during elite Rugby League match play should be considered when planning postmatch recovery protocols and training activities to optimize subsequent performance.
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