Professional soccer players battled fatigue for six weeks after COVID infection, study finds – ScienceDaily

Professional footballers’ match-day performance plummeted after recovering from COVID-19, with three quarters battling fatigue for six weeks, a University of Essex study has found.

The study — published in Physiological reports – examined top football players for the first time and explored the impact of long Covid on elite athletes.

It found that 77% of those studied fought general fatigue for 37 days and 54% fought muscle fatigue for 38 days after testing negative.

GPS data from 10 matches after they returned to play revealed a 4% drop in match performance – despite no drop in lung capacity.

The study was led by Dr. Michele Girardi who worked in conjunction with the University’s School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences.

He hopes the research will help improve return-to-play protocols for sports stars recovering from the virus.

Dr Girardi said: “This is one of the first studies that looked at the impact of COVID-19 on professional footballers.

“An original aspect is that we studied the metabolic power of players during official matches following the infection.

“We were surprised to see such an impact on the players’ ability to train at high intensity.

“The study results suggest that symptoms of fatigue need to be carefully considered for a safe and effective return to sport after COVID.

“We were limited on who we could study, but the results are concerning and show that more needs to be done to support players as they return to sport.

“This research also has wider implications as football players were in a unique position during the ongoing pandemic and were almost canaries in the coal mine.

“The world of football was very unusual because when we all had to isolate ourselves from everyone, they kept training, meeting in groups and playing.

“We are still learning a lot about the impact of COVID-19 and we hope this research will help clubs guide players back to play and inform public health policy on the long COVID.”

Dr. Girardi worked with colleagues in Italy to study Italian league Serie C players for the article titled “COVID-19 disease in professional soccer players: symptoms and impact on lung function and metabolic output during the games”.

An anonymous club opened its doors to a team of researchers, which also included academics from the University of Padua, the University of Rome “Foro Italico”, the University of Verona and University College London.

Data from 13 players infected with COVID was studied over a period of approximately six months.

They had an average age of 24, were just under 6 feet tall and weighed around just over 12 stone.

It is now hoped that the study will be expanded with more participating teams to understand the impact of the coronavirus.

Dr Girardi added: “While this is a relatively small sample, this is vital data that shows there is still much to be done to understand the impact of COVID on healthy young people. health.

“The virus has not gone away and sports teams are high-risk environments that can act as real vectors of infection.”

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Material provided by University of Essex. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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