The relative efficacy of three recovery modalities after professional rugby league matches

J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Sep;27(9):2449-55. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827f5253.


This 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.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Cryotherapy
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Myalgia / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Creatine Kinase