Influence of contrast shower and water immersion on recovery in elite netballers

J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Aug;28(8):2353-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000417.


Contrast water therapy is a popular recovery modality in sport; however, appropriate facilities can often be difficult to access. Therefore, the present study examined the use of contrast showers as an alternative to contrast water therapy for team sport recovery. In a randomized, crossover design, 10 elite female netball athletes (mean ± SD: age, 20 ± 0.6 years; height, 1.82 ± 0.05 m; body mass, 77.0 ± 9.3 kg) completed 3 experimental trials of a netball specific circuit followed by one of the following 14-minute recovery interventions: (a) contrast water therapy (alternating 1 minute 38° C and 1 minute 15° C water immersion), (b) contrast showers (alternating 1 minute 38° C and 1 minute 18° C showers), or (c) passive recovery (seated rest in 20° C). Repeated agility, skin and core temperature, and perception scales were measured before, immediately after, 5 and 24 hours postexercise. No significant differences in repeated agility were evident between conditions at any time point. No significant differences in core temperature were observed between conditions; however, skin temperature was significantly lower immediately after contrast water therapy and contrast showers compared with the passive condition. Overall perceptions of recovery were superior after contrast water therapy and contrast showers compared with passive recovery. The findings indicate contrast water therapy and contrast showers did not accelerate physical recovery in elite netballers after a netball specific circuit; however, the psychological benefit from both interventions should be considered when determining the suitability of these recovery interventions in team sport.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cold Temperature
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Immersion*
  • Perception
  • Recovery of Function
  • Skin Temperature
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Water
  • Young Adult


  • Water