George P. Elias, Victoria L. Wyckelsma, Matthew C. Varley, Michael J. McKenna and Robert J. Aughey
The efficacy of a single exposure to 14 min of contrast water therapy (CWT) or cold-water immersion (COLD) on recovery postmatch in elite professional footballers was investigated.
Twenty-four elite footballers participated in a match followed by 1 of 3 recovery interventions. Recovery was monitored for 48 h postmatch. Repeat-sprint ability (6 × 20-m), static and countermovement jump performance, perceived soreness, and fatigue were measured prematch and immediately, 24 h, and 48 h after the match. Soreness and fatigue were also measured 1 h postmatch. Postmatch, players were randomly assigned to complete passive recovery (PAS; n = 8), COLD (n = 8), or CWT (n = 8).
Immediately postmatch, all groups exhibited similar psychometric and performance decrements, which persisted for 48 h only in the PAS group. Repeatsprinting performance remained slower at 24 and 48 h for PAS (3.9% and 2.0%) and CWT (1.6% and 0.9%) but was restored by COLD (0.2% and 0.0%). Soreness after 48 h was most effectively attenuated by COLD (ES 0.59 ± 0.10) but remained elevated for CWT (ES 2.39 ± 0.29) and PAS (ES 4.01 ± 0.97). Similarly, COLD more successfully reduced fatigue after 48 h (ES 1.02 ± 0.72) than did CWT (ES 1.22 ± 0.38) and PAS (ES 1.91 ± 0.67). Declines in static and countermovement jump were ameliorated best by COLD.
An elite professional football match results in prolonged physical and psychometric deficits for 48 h. COLD was more successful at restoring physical performance and psychometric measures than CWT, with PAS being the poorest.
George P. Elias, Matthew C. Varley, Victoria L. Wyckelsma, Michael J. McKenna, Clare L. Minahan and Robert J. Aughey
The authors investigated the efficacy of a single exposure to 14 min of cold-water immersion (COLD) and contrast water therapy (CWT) on posttraining recovery in Australian football (AF).
Fourteen AF players participated in 3 wk of standardized training. After week 1 training, all players completed a passive recovery (PAS). During week 2, COLD or CWT was randomly assigned. Players undertook the opposing intervention in week 3. Repeat-sprint ability (6 × 20 m), countermovement and squat jumps, perceived muscle soreness, and fatigue were measured pretraining and over 48 h posttraining.
Immediately posttraining, groups exhibited similar performance and psychometric declines. At 24 h, repeat-sprint time had deteriorated by 4.1% for PAS and 1.0% for CWT but was fully restored by COLD (0.0%). At 24 and 48 h, both COLD and CWT attenuated changes in mean muscle soreness, with COLD (0.6 ± 0.6 and 0.0 ± 0.4) more effective than CWT (1.9 ± 0.7 and 1.0 ± 0.7) and PAS having minimal effect (5.5 ± 0.6 and 4.0 ± 0.5). Similarly, after 24 and 48 h, COLD and CWT both effectively reduced changes in perceived fatigue, with COLD (0.6 ± 0.6 and 0.0 ± 0.6) being more successful than CWT (0.8 ± 0.6 and 0.7 ± 0.6) and PAS having the smallest effect (2.2 ± 0.8 and 2.4 ± 0.6).
AF training can result in prolonged physical and psychometric deficits persisting for up to 48 h. For restoring physical-performance and psychometric measures, COLD was more effective than CWT, with PAS being the least effective. Based on these results the authors recommend that 14 min of COLD be used after AF training.