Profiling the post-match recovery response in male rugby: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 May 2020
To minimize underperformance, injury and illness, and to enhance readiness for training and match-play, post-match responses are commonly monitored within professional rugby. As no clear consensus exists regarding the magnitude and duration of post-match recovery, this review summarized literature (17 studies yielded from literature searching/screening) reporting neuromuscular (countermovement jump; CMJ: peak power output; PP, flight-time; FT), biochemical (creatine kinase; CK), endocrine (cortisol; C, testosterone; T concentrations) and subjective (wellness questionnaire, muscle soreness) indices following rugby match-play. For neuromuscular responses (11 studies), reductions in PP <31.5% occurred <30 min post-match, returning to baseline within 48-72 h. Post-match reductions in FT of <4% recovered after 48 h. For biochemical and endocrine responses (14 studies), increases in CK, ranging from 120-451%, peaked between 12-24 h, returning to baseline within 72 h of match-play. Initial increases of <298% in C, and reductions in T concentrations (<44%), returned to pre-match values within 48-72 h. Mood disturbances (six studies) required 48-72 h to normalize after peak decrements of <65% at 24 h. This review highlights that 72 h were needed to restore perturbations in neuromuscular, biochemical and endocrine, and subjective/perceptual responses following competitive rugby match-play. Notably, only four studies reported responses in more ecologically valid scenarios (i.e., those in which regular training and recovery strategies were employed) whilst also reporting detailed match demands. A lack of research focusing on youth players was also evident, as only three studies profiled post-match responses in younger athletes. Deeper insight regarding post-match responses in ecologically valid scenarios is therefore required.

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External organisations

  • Castleford Tigers RLFC
  • Leeds Beckett University

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