Background Static stretching (SS) is a recovery intervention used for the reduction of muscle soreness postexercise. The effects of SS on elite young footballers have received little attention, and therefore the aim of this study was to assess the effects of SS on muscle recovery following competitive soccer matches in elite young footballers.
Methods Ten male participants (16±1 years) were recruited from an English Premier League professional soccer academy. Using a controlled crossover design, participants followed one of two recovery interventions (SS or passive recovery (PR)) immediately following completion of competitive soccer matches. Muscle oedema, creatine kinase (CK), countermovement jump with arms (CMJA) performance and perceived muscle soreness were assessed before, immediately after and 48 hours postmatch.
Results Competitive soccer matches significantly induced muscle damage, with time intervals of perceived soreness and CK showing significant increases (p<0.05), and CMJA showing significant decreases between prematch, postmatch and 48 hours postmatch for both SS and PR (p<0.05). Comparisons of the absolute effects of SS with PR only revealed significant decreases for CK 48 hours postmatch (p<0.05) as a result of SS intervention.
Conclusion The current study demonstrated competitive soccer matches induced muscle damage, which may have detrimental effects on future performance within 24–48 hours postmatch. Furthermore, there was limited evidence to suggest SS would assist in the reduction of muscle soreness postexercise. Therefore, it can be argued that SS is not a beneficial recovery option for elite youth soccer players.
- Injury prevention
- Sport Performance
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Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank all the participants who volunteered their time for this study and in doing so made the completion of this research possible.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Kingston University.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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