Skin temperature and muscle damage correlation in soccer players

Skin temperature and muscle damage correlation in soccer players

25/05/2021 By: Ismael Fernández Cuevas y Víctor Escamilla Galindo Home

Today we will speak about a scientific paper that analyzed a hot topic into the sports thermography field: the correlation between skin temperature and muscle damage.

Alex de Andrade and collaborators (2017) published some years ago a paper called Skin temperature changes of under-20 soccer players after two consecutive matches. The sample of this research were 20 professional soccer players from a Brazilian first division team [age 19.00 ± 1.00 years; height 181.3.0 ± 6.63 cm; percentage body fat (% BF) 9.02 ± 1.82%, body surface area (BSA) 1.92 m2 and VO _ 2max 56.44 ± 3.20 ml min-1 kg-1]. The aim of these researchers was to analyze how skin temperature react after two consecutive soccer matches (as we know as congested schedule), and also exploring its relationship to muscle damage. Indeed, we have already published some information about skin temperature response in soccer training (HIIT).

With this study, De Andrade and collaborators (2017) aimed to monitoring physiological response following official soccer matches that include depletion of glycogen, high muscle damage or/and severe inflammation. For this purpose, the relationship between a local response (skin temperature) and the overall response (CK) was identified as a key factor to understand how these variables reacts in response to soccer matches.

“…skin temperature responsiveness to consecutive games suggests that thermographic evaluation should not be performed only considering contralateral asymmetry, but also considering the thermal response to training loads…”

De Andrade et al. (2017)

The results showed that after the first match, CK and skin temperature increased significantly (around 1ºC) 24 hours after the competition, but returned to baseline values 48 hours after (mainly in the case of thermal data).

The second game, which is played on a congested calendar, generated a greater impact on the body, increasing more the temperature of the skin (around 1.5ºC), but 48 hours after the second match, the thermal values did not return to baseline condition as it did 48 hours after the first match. The CK and skin temperature evolution showed us a relationship between muscle damage, generated by the game, and skin temperature. In addition to that, if we aim to measure the internal load using skin temperature data, it seems that taking the thermal image 24 hours after competition is better than 48h hours after.

If we want to better understand how thermography can be used in a professional football team, you can take a look of the video about Fluminense. Juliano Spinetti is implementing in this team a methodology using ThermoHuman and other tools to improve decision-making (showed in the following video).

De Andrade and collaborators (2017) concluded that it is necessary to establish a routine of evaluations to identify how each athlete thermally responds to the different training loads. The authors pointed out that this methodology ensures the possibility of identifying relevant responses that could be linked to inflammation processes.

Knowing the mechanisms underlying skin temperature response and the easiness to obtain this data using infrared thermography may be helpful in assisting technical and medical staff of professional soccer clubs, thus becoming an important part of injury prevention protocols.


de Andrade Fernandes, A., Pimenta, E. M., Moreira, D. G., Sillero-Quintana, M., Marins, J. C. B., Morandi, R. F., … & Garcia, E. S. (2017). Skin temperature changes of under-20 soccer players after two consecutive matchesSport Sciences for Health13(3), 635-643.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.