Physiological or performance tests are routinely utilised to assess athletes' recovery. At present, the ideal tool to assess recovery remains unknown. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to examine the change in creatine kinase (CK) and neuromuscular function as measured via a countermovement jump (CMJ) following a match in the contact codes of football. A comprehensive search of databases was undertaken with RevMan (V 5.3) used for statistical analysis. Our results demonstrated that CK pre- versus post-match (standardised mean difference (SMD) = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.50 to 1.31, p < .0001), CK pre- versus 24 h post-match (SMD = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.88, p < .00001), and CK pre- versus 48 h post-match all increased significantly (SMD = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.50 to 1.31, p < .0001), while CMJ peak power (PP) pre- versus post-match (SMD = -0.59, 95% CI = -1.12 to -0.06, p = .03), and pre- versus 24 h post-match (SMD = -0.80, 95% CI = -1.31 to -0.28, p = .002) decreased significantly. There was a significant relationship between the change in CK and the change in CMJ PP from immediately pre to immediately post (r = -0.924, p = .025), and between CMJ immediately following a match and 24 h CK change (r = -0.983, p = .017). In conclusion, CK levels increase and performance in the CMJ decreases following a match of a contact code of football. The identification of this relationship may allow coaching staff to implement a standalone measure of recovery.
Keywords: Fatigue; exercise; overtraining; team sport.