Phases of Methodology
The defining phase of the current study sought to find the most beneficial recovery method following intense physical activity, which caused fatigue to the musculoskeletal, nervous and metabolic systems. The defining phase of the study required an understanding of current water immersion in addition to reasoning behind why current water immersion techniques are used. Furthermore, when designing the study the authors also deemed it necessary that the subjects were tested in conditions that matched those of real-life team sport competitions and ensure that the fatiguing exercise they were engaging in had the potential to be detrimental to their performance. Moreover, the authors needed to determine what type of sport they would be testing for, being what movement patterns they use most for their sport, for example swimming versus running sports. In addition the authors also needed to determine whether to test for team-sport exercise or individual-sport exercise. There are many different ways in which to recover from such fatiguing exercise, however the design of this study looked at one method in particular. Previous research has shown that water immersion can be beneficial for recovery however the authors of this study wanted to decipher which of the types of water immersion was most beneficial for the athletes to engage in following high intensity exercise.
In order to effectively execute the study, the planning phase needed to determine exactly what the researchers want to achieve. In terms of the current article, the authors were looking to find the differences in the effects of water immersion on post-exercise recovery from simulated team-sport exercise. Throughout the planning phase, the authors needed to develop a battery of exercises that would resemble team sport exercise. Before testing began, research regarding appropriate exercises that would imitate real-life sporting situations would need to be conducted. Determining what tests in particular would be most realistic makes the study valid. Within the battery of exercises the authors had planned, ensuring that they were challenging enough to the athletes that results can be valid and reliable was an additional aspect of their planning phase. In addition, the authors also acknowledged the fact that the athletes would need to familiarise themselves with the tests in order to reduce the risk of injury. Moreover, the authors of the study were required to determine what types of athletes were required to engage in the study in terms of gender, age, athleticism and team sport experience. The planning phase also required thoughts on safety and security of the athletes. Consent forms and approval from the Human Ethics Committee from the University of Western Australia were required before the execution phase began. The facilities and resources required for the study were also planned for within this phase as equipment had to be valid and reliable. In addition, the responsibilities of specific personnel would also be established. These personnel include the team manager of the study, statistician, and a sports scientist to run the testing protocols and collect data. Personnel were also required for conducting a recovery literature review.
During the executing phase of the study, the authors had the athletes familiarise themselves with the types of exercises they were going to be completing two weeks prior to the start of the study to ensure a full recovery by the time the study began. The authors also ensured that all athletes were aware of the protocol of the study and a 12-minute warm up consisting of jogging, sprinting and static stretching was performed before each activity. Tests involved within the study included: Standard Exercise Protocol
- Repeated Sprint Test
- 10 x 20m sprints performed every 25 seconds
- Maximal Isometric Contraction
- Quadriceps, Hamstring & Hip Flexor
- Lasting 3 seconds each
Team Exercise Protocol
- Intermittent Running
- 4 x 20min running
- Each separated by 5 minutes of recovery
- Shuttle Run
- Start at level 7
- Run until exhaustion
Both subjective and objective data was recorded from the tests. Subjective data was collected using RPE and the Likert scale. Objective data was recorded using blood markers of muscle damage. These markers were recorded immediately before exercise, immediately after exercise, 24 hours post exercise and 48 hours post exercise. In addition, resting venous blood was also recorded 18 minutes post exercise when the athlete had been standing in order to control for any postural-induced changes in plasma volume. The venous blood was analysed for haemoglobin and haematocrit to determine percentage changes of plasma volume. In terms of water immersion, athletes conducted the physical testing followed by immediate immersion and again 24 hours post exercise in either the cold water or contrast water immersion. Those in the control group did not participate in any water immersion following the exercises. An important factor in the testing process was that all testing exercises were conducted at the same time of the day when each testing session occurred. Test protocol was performed three times throughout the study. Recovery protocol followed each session. Each testing session was separated by two weeks allowing for adequate recovery for all athletes, including the control group.
The delivery phase was one of the most time consuming processes of the entire study. Once data had been collected, a statistical analysis was carried out to identify which recovery method would be most beneficial to the athlete’s performance. In terms of quantifying the data, each recovery method was compared to one another in addition to being compared to individual markers of fatigue such as muscle soreness, amount of plasma CK, and the amount of plasma CRP. In addition, recovery methods were also compared to each other by the results of the exercise testing such as total sprint time, best sprint time, leg extension, leg flexion and hip flexion. Following the set-up of the tests, running of the tests, collation on data, and the analysis of the data, the authors were required to report on the findings of the study. The specific personnel who were appointed in the planning phase collated their data in order to develop the report. Research was required to develop a supportive background into the beneficial effects of recovery involving water immersion. Moreover, previous studies were also compared to the findings of the current study to provide support and value to the study. Following completion of the study and report, the paper was then submitted for publication. Once submitted, peer review and approval was required in order for the study to be published. After approval was confirmed, the article was then published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
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