With much of the world in the grip of world cup fever, the latest study concerning creatine supplementation in soccer players has been published with impeccable timing. In an interesting aside, the study was conducted by researchers from the host nation, Brazil and also involved a group of elite Brazilian soccer players. The research question under investigation was how a conventional creatine supplementation regime would affect lower-limb muscle power performance as measured by countermovement jump in an elite group of soccer players during a 7-week period of pre season training.
Prior to this study, a handful of other studies had explored the effect of creatine monohydrate supplementation on performance parameters in soccer players. However, with the exception of one study, all of them have been of relatively short duration (i.e. 6-7 days). In real life, your average soccer player or elite team sports player typically supplements with creatine for several weeks or months. Therefore the Brazilian researchers deemed it necessary to investigate the effect of creatine supplementation over several weeks.
It’s worth mentioning that the trial was conducted during the soccer players pre-season training, which is typically an intense period of training that leads to functional overreaching and an associated brief dip in performance and strength. If creatine could at least mitigate this decrease, it would still be seen as beneficial.
On a quality level, the study was very robust as it employed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel-group design. But numbers wise it was bit weak, with just seven subjects each in the active and placebo groups. This was a function largely of the fact that the researchers wanted to limit participants to a single soccer club in order to minimize the effects of variables such as different training regimes.
The researchers used a standard creatine supplementation regime consisting of 20g/day (in 4 divided doses) for 7 days followed by a single dose of 5g/day for the remaining 6 weeks. No consideration was given for individualisation of dose based on bodyweight.
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found a trend for the creatine group to improve their countermovement jump performance, while the opposite was observed in the placebo group. Taken together, the results of the study suggest that creatine monohydrate supplementation prevented the progressive training-induced decline in lower-limb performance in professional elite soccer players during pre-season training. The findings certainly give a green light for any soccer player or competitive team sports player to trial a period of creatine supplementation either during pre-season or competition.
Claudino JG, et al. Creatine monohydrate supplementation on lower-limb muscle power in Brazilian elite soccer players. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2014;11:32.