Date of Submission



In most team sports, a cycle of training, competition, and recovery repeatedly occurs over each week of a competitive season. For athletic performance to be maintained through a season, an optimal balance between training and recovery is required. To facilitate the recovery process after competition games and training, hydrotherapy has been adopted by a number of sporting teams.

Methods: In the present thesis a review of literature was undertaken to identify the most commonly investigated methods of recovery in professional sport. Pilot studies were then conducted across periods of four weeks. The review of literature highlighted the need for research into recovery to examine beyond the acute phase. To address the need to examine recovery beyond the acute phase the major study evaluated three related questions: Firstly, the effectiveness of hydrotherapy for recovery in the first 48h after a simulated game: Secondly, the effectiveness of hydrotherapy for recovery across a cyclic week, including a simulated game and three training sessions: Thirdly; the effectiveness of hydrotherapy for recovery as measured across performance in two simulated Rugby Union games. A simulated game of Rugby Union previously used in evaluating factors affecting performance in Rugby Union was adopted as the key physiological stressor: Finally, to accommodate and compare the studies within this thesis with the increasing volume of published literature evaluating hydrotherapy for recovery in team sport, a systematic review with meta-analysis was carried out.

Male Rugby Union players (n=24) were recruited to participate in this research. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. A cold water immersion (CWI) group underwent two cycles of 5 minutes at 10oC, a contrast water therapy (CWT) group underwent 5 cycles (1 minute alternating immersions at 10oC/40oC) and a control group underwent passive recovery, which involved being seated for 15 minutes. Within group and between group analyses were conducted using an ANOVA model with baseline scores as covariates for each of the three research questions. Post hoc analysis was conducted manually, with each time point as the covariate and analysed individually against each time point. Effect sizes were calculated as partial eta2 (ηp2) (omnibus) and Cohen‟s d (univariate).


School of Exercise Science

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


247 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences