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Muscle damage, inflammation, and recovery interventions during a 3-day basketball tournament

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Cold water immersion and compression garments are now popular strategies for post-exercise recovery. However, little information exists on the effectiveness of these strategies to minimize muscle damage, or any impact they may have on biomarker clearance after team sport competition. The main aim of this study was to investigate the time course of muscle damage markers and inflammatory cytokines during basketball tournament play. We also wished to examine if cold water immersion and compression recovery strategies ameliorate any post-game increases of these biomarkers, compared with traditional refuelling and stretching routines. Male basketball players (age 19.1 years, s=2.1; height 1.91 m, s=0.09; body mass 87.9 kg, s=15.1) were asked to compete in a three-day tournament playing one game each day. Players were assigned to one of three recovery treatments: carbohydrate+stretching (control, n=9), cold-water immersion at 11°C for 5×1 min (n=10); or full-leg compression at 18 mmHg for ∼18 h (n=10). Players received their treatment after each game on three consecutive days. Venous blood samples were assayed before the tournament and at 10 min, 6 h, and 24 h after each game for concentrations of the muscle damage markers fatty-acid binding protein (FABP), creatine kinase, and myoglobin; interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) were also assayed. Inferences were based on log-transformed concentrations. Post-game increases in damage markers were clear and very large for FABP after the cold water immersion (3.81 ×/÷ 1.19, factor mean ×/÷ factor s), compression (3.93 ×/÷ 1.46), and control (4.04 ×/÷ 1.19) treatments. Increases in myoglobin were also clear and very large after the cold water immersion (3.50 ×/÷ 1.35), compression (3.66 ×/÷ 1.48), and control (4.09 ×/÷ 1.18) treatments. Increases in creatine kinase were clear but small after the cold water immersion (1.30 ×/÷ 1.03), compression (1.25 ×/÷ 1.39), and control (1.42 ×/÷ 1.15) treatments, with small or unclear differences between treatments. There were clear moderate to large post-game increases in IL-6 for cold water immersion (2.75 ×/÷ 1.37), compression (3.43 ×/÷ 1.52), and control (3.47 ×/÷ 1.49). Increases in IL-10 were clear and moderate for cold water immersion (1.75 ×/÷ 1.43), but clear and large after the compression (2.46 ×/÷ 1.79) and control (2.32 ×/÷ 1.41) treatments. Small decreases in IL-6 and IL-10 were observed with cold water immersion compared with the compression and control treatments, with unclear effects between treatments over the tournament. There was no clear benefit from any recovery treatment post-game, as the differences between treatments for all biomarker measures were small or unclear. Pre- to post-tournament increases in FABP, myoglobin, and creatine kinase were clearly small to moderate. There were also small to moderate differences between cold water immersion and the compression (0.85 ×/÷ 1.21) and control (0.76 ×/÷ 1.26) treatments for the post-tournament measures compared with pre-tournament. Pre- to post-tournament changes for IL-6 and IL-10 were unclear, as were the differences between treatments for both cytokines. Tournament basketball play elicits modest elevations of muscle damage markers, suggesting disruption of myocyte membranes in well-trained players. The magnitude of increase in muscle damage markers and inflammatory cytokines post-game ranged from small for creatine kinase, to large for IL-6 and IL-10, to very large for FABP and myoglobin. Cold water immersion had a small to moderate effect in decreasing FABP and myoglobin concentrations after a basketball tournament compared with the compression and control treatments.
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Keywords: Intermittent exercise; recovery; team sport

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, Australia 2: Department of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand 3: Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia 4: Basketball Australia, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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