A RANDOM CONTROL TRIAL OF CONTRAST BATHS AND ICE BATHS FOR RECOVERY DURING COMPETITION IN U/20 RUGBY UNION
A study investigated the effect on Ice Bath vs. Constrat bath based on phosphate level as a expression of anaerobic capacity
26 male players from the Australia Rugby Union U/20 competition meet the inclusive criteria for volunteered to participate in the RCT. The training sessions was conducted as a squad including warm-up (20 minutes), fitness training (30 minutes), skill session (45 minutes), and opposed team run (20 minutes). Training loads were kept constant across all participants during the study, in line with the teams’ periodized training schedule.
The participants were randomly selected to 1 of 3 groups: ice baths (n=11), which involved
- immersion in cold water for 5 minutes, above the waistline, with a temperature range of between 10 and 12° C;
- contrast baths (n=11), which involved alternating from cold water at temperature range between 10 and 12° C and warm water at a temperature range of between 38 and 40° C for 60 seconds in each cycle, through 7 cycles.
- Finally, those in the control group were to follow a passive recovery strategy.
Baseline test for phosphate decrement was take
Two baseline test was taken, monday and wednesday.
– Baseline was conducted on Monday of week 1 of the study; The baseline was a standardise warm-up incl. two honan drills (15min.)
– baseline 300-m test was conducted on Wednesday of week 1 of the study.
The intervention Ice baths and contrast bath treatments were applied after all training session and each competition game.
No significant difference was identified between base tests and retests in the phosphate decrement test.
Effect size calculations identified a medium to large effect (d = 0.72) for 300-m tests for contrast baths against control.
Trivial effects were identified for ice baths (d = 0.17) against control.
Effect size calculations in the phosphate decrement test showed a trivial effect (d = 0.18) contrast baths and a negative effect (d = 20.62) for ice baths.
The effect scores across contrast baths, ice baths, and passive recovery along with subjective reports indicate a trend toward contrast baths benefiting recovery in rugby. The continued use of 5-minute ice baths for recovery should be reconsidered based on this research because trends suggest a detrimental effect.