Effect of varied recovery interventions on markers of psychophysiological stress in professional rugby union

Angus Lindsay, John Lewis, Nicholas Gill, Steven P. Gieseg, Nick Draper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Rugby union is a physical demanding sport that requires optimum recovery between games to maintain performance levels. Analysis of four unique biochemical markers of stress is measured here to determine which recovery strategy currently in use by a professional team provides the necessary requirements for sustained performance. Urine and saliva samples were collected from 37 professional rugby players before, immediately after and 36 hours after five home games, and analysed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and high performance liquid chromatography for urinary myoglobin, total neopterin (NP; NP + 7,8-dihydroneopterin), salivary cortisol and immunoglobulin A. Subjects completed a cold water immersion (CWI) or pool session (PS), donned compression garments, consumed protein and carbohydrate food and fluid, and slept for 8 hours post-game. The following day subjects choose from one or a combination of CWI, PS or active recovery/ stretching to complete. There was no difference between the recovery protocols for cortisol, total NP, immunoglobulin A concentration or myoglobin at 36 hours post-game. Immunoglobulin A secretion rate significantly increased above pre- game levels at 36 hours post-game for all protocols; however, protocol three did not increase as much (p = 0.038). Total NP was also significantly increased above pre-game levels at 36 hours post-game for all protocols. This study provides evidence that the immediate post-game recovery intervention following a game of professional rugby union may be the most important aspect of psychophysiological player recovery, irrespective of the “next-day” intervention. The concentrations of total NP and immunoglobulin A suggest these professional rugby players are still in a state of recovery 36 hours post-game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-549
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 European College of Sport Science.


  • Biochemistry
  • Recovery
  • Team sport


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