Markers of postmatch fatigue in professional rugby league players
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The aim of the present study was to identify neuromuscular, biochemical, and endocrine markers of fatigue after Rugby League match play. Seventeen elite Rugby League players were monitored for a single match. Peak rate of force development (PRFD), peak power (PP), and peak force (PF) were measured during a countermovement jump (CMJ) on a force plate pre and postmatch play. Saliva and blood samples were collected 24 hours prematch, 30 minutes prematch, 30 minutes postmatch, and then at 24-hour intervals for a period of 120 hours to determine plasma creatine kinase concentration ([CK]) and salivary cortisol concentration ([sCort]). There were significant (p < 0.05) decreases in PRFD and PP up to 24 hours postmatch with PF significantly (p < 0.05) decreased immediately postmatch. The [sCort] significantly (p < 0.05) increased from 24 hours prematch to 30 minutes prematch and up to 24 hours postmatch compared with 24 hours prematch. Plasma [CK] significantly (p < 0.05) increased 30 minutes postmatch with a peak occurring 24 hours postmatch and remained elevated above 24 hours prematch for at least 120 hours postmatch. There were significant (p < 0.05) correlations between the increase in [CK] and reduction in PRFD 30 minutes postmatch and 24 hours post-match. The [sCort] was significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with the reduction in PF 30 minutes postmatch. Results demonstrate that neuromuscular function is compromised for up to 48 hours after match play. Elevated [CK] despite 120-hour recovery indicate that damage to muscle tissue after Rugby League match play may persist for at least 5 days postmatch. Despite the prolonged presence of elevated [CK] postmatch, strength training 48 hours postmatch may have resulted in a compensatory increase in PRFD supporting the inclusion of strength training during the short-term postmatch recovery period.
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