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Markers of Muscle Damage and Performance Recovery after Exercise in the Heat


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 5 - p 860–868
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827ded04
BASIC SCIENCES: Special Report

Purpose: This study aimed to determine whether competitive intermittent exercise in the heat affects recovery, aggravates markers of muscle fiber damage, and delays the recovery of performance and muscle glycogen stores.

Methods: Plasma creatine kinase, serum myoglobin, muscle glycogen, and performance parameters (sprint, endurance, and neuromuscular testing) were evaluated in 17 semiprofessional soccer players before, immediately after, and during 48 h of recovery from a match played in 43°C (HOT) and compared with a control match (21°C with similar turf and setup).

Results: Muscle temperature was ∼1°C higher (P < 0.001) after the game in HOT compared with control and reached individual values between 39.9°C and 41.1°C. Serum myoglobin levels increased by more than threefold after the matches (P < 0.01), but values were not different in HOT compared with control, and they were similar to baseline values after 24 h of recovery. Creatine kinase was significantly elevated both immediately and 24 h after the matches, but the response after HOT was reduced compared with control. Muscle glycogen responses were similar across trials and remained depressed for more than 48 h after both matches. Sprint performance and voluntary muscle activation were impaired to a similar extent after the matches (sprint by ∼2% and voluntary activation by ∼1.5%; P < 0.05). Both of these performance parameters as well as intermittent endurance capacity (estimated by a Yo-Yo IR1 test) were fully recovered 48 h after both matches.

Conclusion: Environmental heat stress does not aggravate the recovery response from competitive intermittent exercise associated with elevated muscle temperatures and markers of muscle damage, delayed resynthesis of muscle glycogen, and impaired postmatch performance.

1Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DENMARK; 2Research and Education Centre, Aspetar, Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, QATAR; 3Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UNITED KINGDOM; and 4ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Sport Science Department, Doha, QATAR

Address for correspondence: Lars Nybo, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Section of Human Physiology, August Krogh Building, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 13, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2012.

Accepted for publication November 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine