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Rugby preseason training involves high-volume strength and conditioning training, necessitating effective management of the recovery-stress state to avoid overtraining and maximize adaptive gains.
Compression garments and an electrostimulation device have been proposed to improve recovery by increasing venous blood flow. These devices were assessed using salivary testosterone and cortisol, plasma creatine kinase, and player questionnaires to determine sleep quality, energy level, mood, and enthusiasm.
Twenty-five professional rugby players were assigned to 1 of 2 treatments (compression garment or a concurrent combination of electrostimulation and compression) in a crossover design over 2 × 2-wk training blocks.
Substantial benefits were observed in self-assessed energy levels (effect size [ES] 0.86), and enthusiasm (ES 0.80) as a result of the combined treatment when compared with compression-garment use. The combination treatment had no discernable effect on salivary hormones, with no treatment effect observed. The electrostimulation device did tend to accelerate the return of creatine kinase to baseline levels after 2 preseason rugby games when compared with the compression-garment intervention (ES 0.61; P = .08).
Electrostimulation elicited psychometric and physiological benefits reflective of an improved recovery-stress state in professional male rugby players when combined with a lower-body compression garment.
Beaven, Cook, and Drawer are with the United Kingdom Sports Council, London, UK. Beaven is also with the Swedish Winter Sports Research Center. Gray, Downes, and Murphy are with Hurricanes Rugby, Wellington, New Zealand. Ingram is with the Plant and Food Research Inst, Auckland, New Zealand. Kilduff is with Health and Sport Portfolio, Swansea University, Swansea, UK. Gill is with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.