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The Relative Efficacy of Three Recovery Modalities After Professional Rugby League Matches

Webb, Nicholas P.1,2; Harris, Nigel K.1; Cronin, John B.1,3; Walker, Craig2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: September 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 9 - p 2449–2455
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827f5253
Original Research

Abstract: Webb, NP, Harris, NK, Cronin, JB, and Walker, C. The relative efficacy of three recovery modalities after professional rugby league matches. J Strength Cond Res 27(9): 2449–2455, 2013This study investigated the relative efficacy of postgame recovery modalities on jump height performance and subjective ratings of muscle soreness and muscle damage at 1, 18, and 42 hours after professional rugby league competition games. Twenty-one professional rugby league players performed 3 different postmatch recovery modalities: cold water immersion (CWI), contrast water therapy (CWT), and active recovery (ACT). The effects of the recovery treatments were analyzed with mixed modeling including a covariate (fatigue score) to adjust for changes in the intensity of each match on the postmatch values of the dependent variables of interest. Standardization of effects was used to make magnitude-based inferences, presented as mean with ±90% confidence limits. Cold water immersion and CWT clearly recovered jump height performance (CWI 2.3 ± 3.7%; CWT 3.5 ± 4.1%), reduced muscle soreness (CWI −0.95 ± 0.37; CWT −0.55 ± 0.37), and decreased creatine kinase (CWI −11.0 ± 15.1%; CWT 18.2 ± 20.1%) by 42 hours postgame compared with ACT. Contrast water therapy was however clearly more effective compared with CWI on the recovery of muscle soreness and creatine kinase by 42 hours postgame. Based on these findings, CWT recovery is recommended postmatch for team rugby sports.

1Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

2New Zealand Warriors Rugby League Club, Auckland, New Zealand

3School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Address correspondence to Nicholas Webb,

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.