Muscle damage, inflammatory, immune and performance responses to three football games in 1 week in competitive male players

Magni Mohr, Dimitrios Draganidis, Athanasios Chatzinikolaou, Jose Carlos Barbero-Álvarez, Carlo Castagna, Ioannis Douroudos, Alexandra Avloniti, Alexandra Margeli, Ioannis Papassotiriou, Andreas D. Flouris, Athanasios Z. Jamurtas, Peter Krustrup, Ioannis G. Fatouros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose We examined effects of a three-game, 1-week
microcycle (G1, G2, G3) on recovery of performance and
inflammatory responses in professional male footballers.
Methods Players were randomized into an experimental
(EXP; N = 20) and a control group (CON; N = 20). Blood
was drawn and repeated sprint ability (RSA), muscle soreness and knee range of motion (KJRM) were determined
pre- and post-games and during recovery.
Results High-intensity running during G2 was 7–14 %
less compared to G1 and G3. RSA declined in EXP by 2–9
% 3 days post-game with G2 causing the greatest performance impairment. In EXP, game play increased muscle
soreness (~sevenfold) compared to CON with G2 inducing
the greatest rise, while KJRM was attenuated post-game
in EXP compared to CON (5–7 %) and recovered slower
post G2 and G3 than G1. CK, CRP, sVCAM-1, sP-Selectin and cortisol peaked 48 h post-games with G2 eliciting the
greatest increase. Leukocyte count, testosterone, IL-1β
and IL6 responses, although altered 24 h post each game,
were comparable among games. Plasma TBARS and protein carbonyls rose by ~50 % post-games with G2 eliciting
the greatest increase 48 h of recovery. Reduced to oxidized
glutathione ratio declined for 24 h post all games with G2
displaying the slowest recovery. Total antioxidant capacity
and glutathione peroxidase activity increased (9–56 %) for
48 h in response to game play.
Conclusion In summary, post-game performance recovery and inflammatory adaptations in response to a threegame weekly microcycle displayed a different response
pattern, with strong indications of a largest physiological
stress and fatigue after the middle game that was preceded
by only a 3-day recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • fatigue
  • team sports
  • physical preparation
  • repeated sprint ability
  • soccer
  • football
  • male


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