Monday, January 21, 2008

Active or Passive Recovery? A study on soccer players

Recovery is an interesting topic.
How often should you train?
How much rest do you need?
How should you rest - doing nothing, or taking some easy / light training?

This study compared passive recovery (doing nothing) or active recovery (easy cycling plus resistance training) after football matches.

It is interesting to note that there was no evidence that active recovery promoted faster recovery - they might just as well have done nothing it seems?

There are several interesting things to note:
  • Playing a match led to immediate decreases in performance in e.g. sprint performance, jumping and strength;
  • The match also produced markers of muscle damage;
  • The first thing that recovered was sprint performance;
  • The last thing that came back to normal was jump performance which was still diminished even when muscle soreness had disappeared;
  • So, even when you are no longer sore, you may not have fully recovered.
  • The effect was not cumulative - i.e., the performance after the 2nd match was not worse than after the first.
I think there are lots of lessons here about how much training you actually need, how much recovery is required and how different things recover at different speeds. To be fully recovered may need more rest than you think!

It would be interesting to hear Dr Duncan's views on this one!

Neuromuscular Fatigue and Recovery in Elite Female Soccer: Effects of Active Recovery.

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 < 50% 1RM) 22 and 46 h after the first match.

RESULTS:: In response to the first match, a significant decrease in sprint performance (-3.0 +/- 0.5%), CMJ (-4.4 +/- 0.8%), peak torque in knee extension (-7.1 +/- 1.9%) and flexion (-9.4 +/- 1.8%), and an increase in CK (+ 152 +/- 28%), urea (15 +/- 2), uric acid (+ 11 +/- 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.


Anonymous said...

I believe the results might have been different (and likely would have shown benefit) had the post workout "passive recovery" been limited to the low intensity cardio portion, thus eliminating the resistance training portion.

What do you think?



Dr Craig S. Duncan said...

Hi Chris An interesting study but I am confused re the resistance training post game and why they would expect this would aid recovery and I agree with the other comment that maybe the RT may have hindered recovery. I am also interested in why the cycling and maybe a better study would have looked at a low intensity run, stretching, massahe, ice bath combinations or at least something we know should have a positive effect. Also I am unsure if they conrolled for nutrition and fluid intake - I dont want to sound like a skeptic but Im not keen on the study design and how through poor study design we get a message that doin nothing is as good as an active recovery etc etc. Therefore due to poor design I cant accept their other findings. What are your thoughts Chris



Chris said...

I have actually bought the whole article for this one and as ever it is much more helpful than the abstract!

I am still reading it through, and will comment more later, but with respect to the active recovery it says:

Active recovery regime.

The active recovery regime consisted of a low-intensity training program lasting 1 h. The training consisted of 20 min of submaximal cycling (60% HRpeak and approximately 45% V˙O2peak), 30 min of low-intensity resistance training (< 50% 1RM) with exercises for both the upper and lower body, and 10 min of submaximal cycling (60% HRpeak). The exercise intensity during the cycling was monitored using a heart rate monitor (S610i, Polar Electro OY, Kempele, Finland). The rationale for using cycling as low aerobic training was that it increases blow flow in the leg muscles and minimizes the load on the muscles, which is proposed to be beneficial for recovery (27). Also, performing low-resistance weight training may enhance the protein metabolism in the exercised muscle, which would be beneficial for recovery. Additionally, the recovery regime was designed to mirror the recovery training used by many Nordic soccer teams. During the active recovery sessions, the subjects drank 1 L of the sports drink, giving a carbohydrate load of 60 g.

Chris said...

They controlled for diet too:


The food intake was standardized for all players during the whole study period. All players were given a meal plan composed by a nutritionist. The composition of the meals was developed using a national food database (Mat pa˚ data 4.3 LKH, Norway), and carbohydrate (CHO) and protein were adjusted to each player's body weight (55/60/65/70 kg, respectively) to meet the recommendations for daily recovery in players participating in moderate training (≥ 6 g body weight CHO, ≥ 1.2 g body weight protein) (20). Twenty-five percent of the total energy intake was from fat, and the meal plan included a variation of bread, cereals, milk/yogurts, meat, pasta/rice, fruit, and vegetables to ensure adequate intake of macro- and micronutrients. In addition, the players had a sports drink available during match, providing approximately 30-60 g of CHO per hour (Maxim Energy) and a CHO intake of 1 g body weight within 30 min after match to ensure optimal recovery (banana, yogurt, sports drink) (20).

Chris said...

I also found this study that concludes that: The results of this study suggest that the most appropriate and effective recovery mode after dynamic muscle fatigue involves light, active exercises, such as cycling with minimal resistance.

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I've heard that the over train is not good and that's what some players in the world use to do, I think we need to get the perfect balance in order don't suffering consequences