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Real world fatigue testing in professional rugby union: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Grainger, A, Comfort, P, Twist, C, Heffernan, SM and Tarantino, G (2023) Real world fatigue testing in professional rugby union: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine. ISSN 0112-1642

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Background: Professional rugby union is a high-intensity contact sport with position specific high training and match volumes across a season that may lead to periods of fatigue if above a typically experienced threshold. This study assesses the influence of match-play and/or training on fatigue levels in rugby union players. Objective: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of measures used to assess fatigue status in male professional rugby union players. Methods: Using electronic databases (PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and MEDLINE), a systematic review of fatigue testing in rugby union was conducted on 1) neuromuscular, 2) subjective self-report, 3) biochemical and 4) heart rate derived measures. Results: Thirty-seven articles were included in this systematic review, of which 14 were further included in a meta-analyses. The results of the meta-analysis revealed small, yet not significant, decreases in countermovement jump height immediately after (ES = -0.29; 95% CIs = -0.64 to 0.06), 24 hours (ES = -0.43; 95% CIs = -3.99 to 3.21), and 48 hours (ES = -0.22; 95% CIs = -0.47 to 0.02) after exposure to rugby union match-play or training. Reported wellness (ES = -0.33; 95% CIs = -1.70 to 1.04) and tiredness (ES = -0.14; 95% CIs = -1.30 to 1.03) declined over a period of a few weeks (however, the results were not-statistically significant), meanwhile muscle soreness increased (ES = 0.91; 95% CIs = 0.06 to 1.75) within the 96 hours after the exposure to rugby union match-play or training. Finally, while cortisol concentrations (ES = 1.87; 95% CIs = -1.54 to 5.29) increased, testosterone declined (ES = -1.54; 95% CIs = -7.16 to 4.08) within the 24 hours after the exposure. However, these results were not-statistically significant. Conclusions: Subjective measures of muscle soreness can be used to assess fatigue after match play and training in rugby union players. Within and between-study variability for countermovement jump height, biochemical markers and heart-rate derived measures means the utility (practical application) of these measures to assess fatigue in professional rugby union players after matches and training is unclear.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-023-01973-3
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0913 Mechanical Engineering; 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences; 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy; Sport Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Springer
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2023 14:02
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 15:30
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/21869
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