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Movement Demands in Australian Rules Football as Indicators of Muscle Damage

Young, Warren B1; Hepner, Jamie1,2; Robbins, Daniel W3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318225a1c4
Original Research

Young, WB, Hepner, J, and Robbins, DW. Movement demands in Australian rules football as indicators of muscle damage. J Strength Cond Res 26(2): 492–496, 2012—The purpose of this study was to determine if there is an association between variables that describe movements in an Australian Rules football (ARF) game with muscle damage. Fourteen elite junior ARF players were monitored with a global positioning system (GPS) during a match, and muscle damage was estimated by determining creatine kinase (CK) 24 hours postmatch. The players were median split based on CK levels, into a high and low CK group, and the groups were compared with independent t-tests. The primary finding was that the group that experienced greater muscle damage (high CK group) generally covered significantly (p < 0.05) greater distances. This was the case for running speeds between 4 and 7 m·s−1 and, with the exception of high acceleration, all intensities of acceleration and deceleration. The high, as compared with the low, CK group also produced a significantly greater (42%) "player load." All of these significant differences were accompanied by large effect sizes. Group-specific Pearson (r) correlations between CK level and GPS variables suggest that a certain volume of movement is required before the elicitation of a positive relationship beyond trivial or small. Correlations between CK and running speeds >4 m·s1 and moderate-high acceleration and deceleration were negative in the low CK (lesser volumes) group. With the exception of low-intensity acceleration/deceleration, the same relationships were positive and generally of a moderate-to-large magnitude in the high CK (greater volumes) group. It may be that a certain volume of movement is required for that movement to be strongly associated with CK levels. It was concluded that selected GPS variables obtained from ARF games can be used as indicators of muscle damage, and this information may be used to individualize recovery strategies after games.

Author Information

1School of Human Movement and Sport Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Australia; 2South Australian Sports Institute, Kidman Park, Australia; and 3Canadian Sport Center-Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Address correspondence to Daniel W. Robbins,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association