[Truncated] Many team-sport athletes are required to compete weekly, leaving limited time for full recovery before the next training session or competitive event. One potential performance-limiting factor after a competitive match is muscle soreness and damage, with the resultant stiffness, swelling, reduced range of movement, fatigue and loss of strength, all contributing to performance decrements. Although the precise cause of post-exercise muscle soreness is unclear, it is typically attributed to internal mechanical strain or injury imposed on muscle fibres during intense or repeated muscular contractions. However, it is also possible that muscle soreness and damage may be the result of direct physical impact resulting from tackling, rucking, shepherding or other collisions between players in team sports involving body contact. Despite the suggestion that body contact may contribute to post-exercise muscle soreness, no previous research has directly compared the degree of muscle soreness and damage resulting from contact and non-contact team sports.
In order to investigate the effect of ‘body contact’ on muscle soreness and damage under more controlled conditions than a real game situation, a testing protocol is required that simulates the activity patterns of team sports. However, a potential limitation of many currently used protocols is their lack of ‘body contact’. Accordingly, the first study of this thesis (Chapter 2) aimed to assess the reliability of a simulated team game circuit with and without ‘contact’ to determine whether it may be suitable for monitoring key performance indicators in response to training or other interventions. Eleven male, team-sport athletes completed four separate testing trials; two ‘non-contact’ trials (NCON) and two ‘contact’ (CON) trials of a simulated game protocol to determine the reliability of a range of team sport performance indicators, including repeated 15-m sprint time, vertical jump height, heart rate responses and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE). This protocol involved four sets of 15-min of intermittent running around a circuit replicating the movement patterns observed in team sports, either with or without simulated contact in the form of a tackle bag being taken to ground every 3 circuits, together with the use of bump pads to provide 3 contacts to each side of the legs at the end of each set. Both CON and NCON produced reliable results for repeated 15-m sprint time, vertical jump height, heart rate response and RPE. Repeated sprint and jump performance declined significantly over time throughout the simulated game (p < 0.05), while heart rate and RPE increased significantly. There was no difference in these performance measures between CON and NCON protocols.
|Publication status||Unpublished - Feb 2014|