Post-Game Recovery

Regardless of the level of play, there are stretches in every players season where games come incredibly frequently (2-3x / week) and often include the added stress of long travel before and after the games. For all but the hardiest athletes, this is an unbelievable stress on the body which must be accounted for in subsequent training. The following abstract is Part 1 of a study (subsequent review not yet available) that doesn’t provide any intervention strategies but does provide some etyology for post-match fatigue. The authors state,

[Match] activities lead to a post-match fatigue that is linked to a combination of dehydration, glycogen depletion, muscle damage and mental fatigue. The magnitude of soccer match-induced fatigue, extrinsic factors (i.e. match result, quality of the opponent, match location, playing surface) and/or intrinsic factors (i.e. training status, age, gender, muscle fibre typology), potentially influence the time course of recovery.

So right off the bat, we can address several factors with post-game nutrition. Muscle damage and mental fatigue are much harder to address and research is inconclusive on best practices (but there have been hints). The review also points to the fact that we can’t treat all athletes as equals in their ability to handle the stress of games (or practice for that matter).

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Sports Med. 2012 Oct 10. doi: 10.2165/11635270-000000000-00000. [Epub ahead of print]

Recovery in Soccer: Part I – Post-Match Fatigue and Time Course of Recovery.

Nédélec M, McCall A, Carling C, Legall F, Berthoin S, Dupont G.

Source

Universit Lille Nord de France, Lille, France.

Abstract

In elite soccer, players are frequently required to play consecutive matches interspersed by 3 days and complete physical performance recovery may not be achieved. Incomplete recovery might result in underperformance and injury. During congested schedules, recovery strategies are therefore required to alleviate post-match fatigue, regain performance faster and reduce the risk of injury. This article is Part I of a subsequent companion review and deals with post-match fatigue mechanisms and recovery kinetics of physical performance (sprints, jumps, maximal strength and technical skills), cognitive, subjective and biochemical markers. The companion review will analyse recovery strategies used in contemporary professional soccer. Soccer involves many physically demanding activities including sprinting, changes in running speed, changes of direction, jumps and tackles, as well as technical actions such as dribbling, shooting and passing. These activities lead to a post-match fatigue that is linked to a combination of dehydration, glycogen depletion, muscle damage and mental fatigue. The magnitude of soccer match-induced fatigue, extrinsic factors (i.e. match result, quality of the opponent, match location, playing surface) and/or intrinsic factors (i.e. training status, age, gender, muscle fibre typology), potentially influence the time course of recovery. Recovery in soccer is a complex issue, reinforcing the need for future research to estimate the quantitative importance of fatigue mechanisms and identify influencing factors. Efficient and individualized recovery strategies may consequently be proposed.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.