HELENA ANDERSSON, TRULS RAASTAD, JOHNNY NILSSON, GKRAN PAULSEN, INA GARTHE, and FAWZI KADI
Department of Health Sciences, O ̈rebro University, O ̈rebro, SWEDEN; Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, NORWAY, and The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, SWEDEN
ANDERSSON, H., T. RAASTAD, J. NILSSON, G. PAULSEN, I. GARTHE, and F. KADI. Neuromuscular Fatigue and Recovery in Elite Female Soccer: Effects of Active Recovery. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 372–380, 2008.
Purpose: To investigate the time course of recovery from neuromuscular fatigue and some biochemical changes between two female soccer matches separated by an active or passive recovery regime.
Methods: Countermovement jump (CMJ), sprint performance, maximal isokinetic knee flexion and extension, creatine kinase (CK), urea, uric acid, and perceived muscle soreness were measured in 17 elite female soccer players before, immediately after, 5, 21, 45, 51, and 69 h after a first match, and immediately after a second match. Eight players performed active recovery (submaximal cycling at 60% of HRpeak and low-intensity resistance training at G 50% 1RM) 22 and 46 h after the first match.
Results: In response to the first match, a significant decrease in sprint performance (j3.0 T 0.5%), CMJ (j4.4 T 0.8%), peak torque in knee extension (j7.1 T 1.9%) and flexion (j9.4 T 1.8%), and an increase in CK (+152 T 28%), urea (15 T 2), uric acid (+ 11 T 2%), and muscle soreness occurred. Sprint ability was first to return to baseline (5 h) followed by urea and uric acid (21 h), isokinetic knee extension (27 h) and flexion (51 h), CK, and muscle soreness (69 h), whereas CMJ was still reduced at the beginning of the second match. There were no significant differences in the recovery pattern between the active and passive recovery groups. The magnitude of the neuromuscular and biochemical changes after the second match was similar to that observed after the first match.
Conclusion: The present study reveals differences in the recovery pattern of the various neuromuscular and biochemical parameters in response to a female soccer match. The active recovery had no effects on the recovery pattern of the four neuromuscular and three biochemical parameters.
For elite female soccer players the number of competitive matches per year, including domestic and international matches, has markedly increased in the last decade. Likewise, the total distance covered during the matches have increased from 8.5 km in the early 1990s to 10.3 km in 2005 (6,17). It is known that the amount of high-intensity running has increased in male soccer during the last decade (sprinting distance increased by 37% in 2003 compared with 1991) (21). The same trend is seen for female players, even though it is difficult to compare throughout the years because there is a lack of data. In 2005, a mean of 1.3 km of high-intensity running was reported in an elite female soccer match (17). Altogether, increased match intensity and frequency highlight the importance of proper recovery between matches to perform optimally. Effective recovery is especially important in competitive tournaments, where the recovery period between two international matches is limited to 2 d. Consequently, it is important to understand the time course of the physiological changes in response to a soccer match in females and to develop effective strategies to accelerate the recovery process.