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.
Fullagar and Murray are with the Dept of Athletics (Football), University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. Govus is with the Swedish Winter Sports Research Center, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden. Hanisch is with the Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia, PA.