To investigate the recovery time course of customized wellness markers (sleep, soreness, energy, and overall wellness) in response to match play in American Division I-A college football players.
A retrospective research design was used. Wellness data were collected and analyzed for 2 American college football seasons. Perceptions of soreness, sleep, energy, and overall wellness were obtained for the day before each game (GD–1) and the days after each game (GD+2, GD+3, and GD+4). Standardized effect-size (ES) analyses ± 90% confidence intervals were used to interpret the magnitude of the mean differences between all time points for the start, middle, and finish of the season, using the following qualitative descriptors: 0–0.19 trivial, 0.2–0.59 small, 0.6–1.19 moderate, 1.2–1.99 large, <2.0 very large.
Overall wellness showed small ES reductions on GD+2 (d = 0.22 ± 0.09, likely [94.8%]), GD+3 (d = 0.37 ± 0.15, very likely), and GD+4 (d = 0.29 ± 0.12, very likely) compared with GD–1. There were small ES reductions for soreness between GD–1 and GD+2, GD+3, and GD +4 (d = 0.21 ± 0.09, likely, d = 0.29 ± 0.12, very likely, and 0.30 ± 0.12, very likely, respectively). Small ES reductions were also evident between GD–1 and GD+3 (d = 0.21 ± 0.09, likely) for sleep. Feelings of energy showed small ESs on GD+3 (d = 0.27 ± 0.11, very likely) and GD+4 (d = 0.22 ± 0.09, likely) compared with GD–1.
All wellness markers were likely to very likely worse on GD+3 and GD+4 than on GD–1. These findings show that perceptual wellness takes longer than 4 d to return to pregame levels and thus should be considered when prescribing training and/or recovery.