In any case, these results should be taken with caution, as (i) most of the studies reviewed have controlled the players’ recovery after the game and within the following 24 hours, (ii) the analysed teams have different competitive levels, (iii) no differentiation has been made between men and women and (iv) climate conditions have not been taken into account.
In conclusion, while some parameters (for example, hormonal and technical) are completely recovered, it seems that a period of 72 hours after the game might not be enough to completely recover the homoeostatic balance (for example, muscle damage, physical condition, and welfare perception). The recovery period cannot consist of a single strategy for all of the athlete’s systems. Caution should also be applied with training loads proposed in this recovery window, as they could be harmful to obtain an optimal restoration of the athletes’ abilities. Medical personnel and coaching staff should implement methods that can optimise the player’s physiological and psychological condition. The load control in the game could help to better estimate the real effect of the competition on residual and acute fatigue. The long recovery period that characterises the CMJ, the hamstring strength, the CK and the DOMS suggest that these parameters could be included in a battery of tests to control recovery. Moreover, nutritional values are very important to ease recovery. Other additional measures could be, according to ”At the Limit: Player Workload in Elite Professional Men’s Football report”,4 developed by FIFPro and the consensus of the International Olympic Committee: (i) Implement a 96 hours rest period between two games; (ii) introduce mandatory breaks of 4 weeks off-season and of 2 weeks mid-season; and (iii) consider the possibility of imposing an annual cap of games for each player in order to protect their health and performance.
Carlos Lago Peñas
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2 Ekstrand J, Waldén M, Hägglund M. Hamstring injuries have increased by 4% annually in men’s professional football, since 2001: a 13-year longitudinal analysis of the UEFA Elite Club injury study. Br J Sports Med 2016; 50:731–7.
3 Silva JR, Rumpf MC, Hertzog M, Castagna C, Farooq A, Girad, O, Hader K. acute and residual soccer match-related fatigue: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sport Psychol 2018; 48: 539-583.