Australian Football is an intense team sport played over ~120 min on a weekly basis. To determine the effects of game and training load on muscle soreness and the time frame of soreness dissipation, 64 elite Australian Football players (age 23.8 ± 1.8 y, height 183.9 ± 3.8 cm, weight 83.2 ± 5.0 kg; mean ± SD) recorded perceptions of muscle soreness, game intensity, and training intensity on scales of 1–10 on most mornings for up to 3 competition seasons. Playing and training times were also recorded in minutes. Data were analyzed with a mixed linear model, and magnitudes of effects on soreness were evaluated by standardization. All effects had acceptably low uncertainty. Game and training-session loads were 790 ± 182 and 229 ± 98 intensity-minutes (mean ± SD), respectively. General muscle soreness was 4.6 ± 1.1 units on d 1 postgame and fell to 1.9 ± 1.0 by d 6. There was a small increase in general muscle soreness (0.22 ± 0.07–0.50 ± 0.13 units) in the 3 d after high-load games relative to low-load games. Other soreness responses showed similar timelines and magnitudes of change. Training sessions made only small contributions to soreness over the 3 d after each session. Practitioners should be aware of these responses when planning weekly training and recovery programs, as it appears that game-related soreness dissipates after 3 d regardless of game load and increased training loads in the following week produce only small increases in soreness.
Montgomery is with St Kilda Football Club, St Kilda, VIC, Australia. Hopkins is with Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.