In Focus: Keeping Fatigue Under Control For Players

As season run-ins and fixture congestion put extra demands on strength and conditioning coaches to get every inch of performance out of players under pressure, one key area which is important to get under control is monitoring muscle fatigue.



Taking the guesswork out of individual recovery times would ensure coaches and medical staff alike could make more data driven decisions on how long a player needs to rest after games or inform tweaks in training regimes.


“Up until this point, conditioning teams have had to make decisions on the planning of the training sessions, or the recovery period post competitions based on subjective perception of fatigue expressed by players on an analogic scale or on performance tests which depend on the commitment and voluntary movements of the player,” says Raphaël Ravet, Product Manager of Myocene – which is working with many Ligue 1 and other European football clubs to objectively monitor muscle fatigue in elite performers.


“Wearable technologies are a must-have in elite sport, like GPS in collective sport or power meters in cycling. All those technologies allow to perfectly measure what is called the external load, i.e. the amount of work performed, which can be evaluated with the total distance run, number of meters at max speed, number of accelerations and decelerations of the player during the game or the watts developed by the cyclist.


“However, strength and conditioning coaches miss objective data to monitor the internal load, i.e. how the athlete body reacts physiologically to the workload.” Myocene’s portable data-generating system allows conditioning coaches to be able to rock up with manageable kit at any venue to run short tests which remove the subjective perception or voluntary action element of the measurement of the internal load.


With manageable test times and instant access to performance data, clubs can make quick decisions based on accurate and objective data to reduce muscle fatigue as a factor in future games.


Ravet continues: “Muscular fatigue results in a reduction in the strength and speed of muscle contractions; therefore, the player becomes less efficient (less strength and speed) the more fatigue he/ she has. Muscular fatigue, or more precisely long-lasting fatigue, could last for several days. We can immediately figure out the considerable interest in measuring muscle fatigue precisely and objectively, as it is a fundamental parameter closely linked to sports performance.


“The fatigue index is gathered by a neurostimulator that allows us to produce perfectly quantified muscle contractions on the quads of both legs of the athlete and a sensor specifically developed to register very accurately the force variations of the quadriceps in response to contractions. The fatigue index is then calculated by a specific algorithm which compute the forces values recorded by the sensor.”


This data then instantly shows on the team’s tablet or portable computer, allowing them to see the true individual picture of how that athlete is recovering from muscle fatigue. By comparing quad measurements taken in a post training or game condition to a rest condition measurement, you can quantify the fatigue induced and monitor the fatigue until the player is fully recovered. Particular attention should be paid in congested periods for instance when the system reports several decreased fatigue indexes during that period showing an accumulated fatigue and incomplete recovery which can lead to overtraining syndrome and injuries, among other things.


“People ask, why do you measure the quads? The quad is a key muscle in terms of performance in football to jump, kick or accelerate. The reduction of force induce by fatigue will therefore directly affect performance. Also, fatigue is significantly increasing the risk of injuries. If players have some fatigue, their ability to coordinate the movement to avoid a tackle is affected.”


And, as the testing is split out for either leg, you can tell if recovery rates are different for the right or left leg and apply different recovery training plans as a result.


“It may be that a right-sided player sees their right leg takes longer to recover from muscle fatigue because they use it more,” says Ravet.


“It could be that a previous injury to one leg means that one takes longer to recover than the other. By spotting that it allows coaches to develop bespoke training plans which will make sure that player recovers faster, leading to a competitive edge at key periods.


“The game changing aspect of Myocene is the objectivity of the measurements it creates. The portability of the technology and how quickly data is generated are great assets for performance teams always on the move. But this is the first time one device has been able to realistically check and monitor muscle fatigue without having to use physical movement of the player.”


Myocene gathers trends in data which shows the nuances of the human you are working with. Some may have stronger fatigue recovery figures while others would need more time to recover after training or competition. The granular nature of the data provided will allow for trends to be spotted, allowing for a greater enhancement of recovery plans for the individual player.


Whilst Myocene is a great system for under pressure strength and conditioning coaches in that crunch congested period, it also has wider benefits for the club. And that starts with a pre-signing medical.


“This is the time of the year when clubs start setting their budgets for next season and the identification of new playing talent steps up a gear. Myocene can play a key role in that medical or all player pre-season training by getting a benchmark fatigue reading.”


At a time when every second counts during a congested season or in pre-season planning, the portable Myocene device can give a competitive edge to training and playing recovery through its granular data generation on the challenge of muscle fatigue.





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