The impact of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on recovery after intensive, muscle damaging, maximal speed training in professional team sports players

J Sci Med Sport. 2015 May;18(3):328-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 Apr 14.


Objectives: During congested fixture periods in team sports, limited recovery time and increased travel hinder the implementation of many recovery strategies; thus alternative methods are required. We examined the impact of a neuromuscular electrical stimulation device on 24-h recovery from an intensive training session in professional players.

Design: Twenty-eight professional rugby and football academy players completed this randomised and counter-balanced study, on 2 occasions, separated by 7 days.

Methods: After baseline perceived soreness, blood (lactate and creatine kinase) and saliva (testosterone and cortisol) samples were collected, players completed a standardised warm-up and baseline countermovement jumps (jump height). Players then completed 60 m × 50 m maximal sprints, with 5 min recovery between efforts. After completing the sprint session, players wore a neuromuscular electrical stimulation device or remained in normal attire (CON) for 8 h. All measures were repeated immediately, 2 and 24-h post-sprint.

Results: Player jump height was reduced from baseline at all time points under both conditions; however, at 24-h neuromuscular electrical stimulation was significantly more recovered (mean±SD; neuromuscular electrical stimulation -3.2±3.2 vs. CON -7.2±3.7%; P<0.001). Creatine kinase concentrations increased at all time points under both conditions, but at 24-h was lower under neuromuscular electrical stimulation (P<0.001). At 24-h, perceived soreness was significantly lower under neuromuscular electrical stimulation, when compared to CON (P=0.02). There was no effect of condition on blood lactate, or saliva testosterone and cortisol responses (P>0.05).

Conclusions: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation improves recovery from intensive training in professional team sports players. This strategy offers an easily applied recovery strategy which may have particular application during sleep and travel.

Keywords: Cortisol; Creatine kinase; Performance; Testosterone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Test
  • Football / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Myalgia / blood
  • Myalgia / etiology
  • Myalgia / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / adverse effects*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Running / physiology
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Lactic Acid
  • Testosterone
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Hydrocortisone