The effect of contrast-temperature water therapy on perofrmance recovery of rugby players

Por: Anna Sheen e Michael Hamlin.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Little research exists in the area of post-exercise hydrotherapy on subsequent performance. This study investigated the effect of contrast-temperature water therapy on elite rugby players’ ability to recover after a repeated sprint test.


In a randomised cross-over experiment 17 male (mean age 19 years, range 18-21) and 3 female (mean age 19 years, range 18-20) highly trained rugby players were given either hot-cold water recovery or normal active recovery immediately after performing a repeated 40-m sprint test. The sprint test was then repeated 1 hour later to gauge the effect of the two recovery methods on subsequent performance. The sprinting test consisted of 10 sprints with a 30-s turn-around between sprints and was measured with a Multichannel Sports Timer (School of Physical Education, Dunedin, New Zealand). Recovery consisted of 6 min slow jogging (6.8 km.h-1) for the active recovery group or 6 min of hot-cold water recovery consisting of three 1-min hip-height immersions in cold water (8-100C) alternated with three 1-min lower body immersions in hot water (380C). Blood lactate concentration (Lactate Pro, Kyoto, Japan) and subjective fatigue ratings were taken immediately after the recovery and repeated sprint procedures. Linear regression was used to plot the sprint data and the first and last sprint was then estimated. Group comparisons were made using repeated measures ANOVA and the chances that the true effects were substantial were estimated.


Relative to active recovery the hot-cold recovery group reported feeling less fatigued and showed a mean decrease in blood lactate concentration of 1.9 mmol.L-1 (95% confidence limits,  1.8 mmol.L-1) immediately after the recovery procedure and 1.0 mmol.L-1 ( 1.5 mmol.L-1) by the end of the second bout of sprinting. Speed for the first sprint in the hot-cold group was relatively slower by 0.7% ( 1.8%) compared to the active recovery group. Last sprint speed and total time for the 10 sprints was similar for both groups.


We conclude that the hot-cold recovery procedure decreases the perception of fatigue and lowers blood lactate concentration compared to an active recovery procedure of similar duration, but it has no substantial effect on subsequent repetitive sprinting performance completed 1 hour later.




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