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19 October 2011 | PR 11/128

Innovative technology to optimize rest and recovery helps finalists prepare for the Rugby World Cup


Dr Vern Neville testing an elite athlete at Loughborough University
(Photographer: Andy Weekes)

With a punishing training schedule and six matches under their belts, the rest and recovery strategies of the French and New Zealand teams will be as crucial as their match play tactics in the Rugby World Cup final this Sunday.  Innovative sports science technology developed at Loughborough University has been helping many of the All Blacks squad to maintain peak performance.

The Canterbury Crusaders make up one third of the All Blacks Team.  The devastating Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 placed a massive strain on the Crusaders, with their home ground closed for the entire season, they effectively played every match as an away game.  However, using the Loughborough expertise, the Crusaders were able optimize their recovery in order to reach the finals of the national championship and have 10 of their players selected for the All Blacks Rugby World Cup challenge, with Richie McCaw as captain.

The innovative recovery expertise is the work of Dr Vern Neville, a professional America’s Cup sailor, scientist and coach who spent over a decade analyzing the behaviours and training patterns of elite athletes from the worlds of rugby, sailing, soccer, cycling and Formula 1.

Honing his research in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University (Team GB’s Olympic preparation base), Dr Neville sought programming expertise from Harvard and Stanford University alumni to create an intuitive web and smartphone based software for intelligent recovery.  The software uses 13 daily evidence based inputs including resting heart rate, sleep, hydration, mood, appetite, muscle soreness and illness and converts these using smart analytics into a single recovery score.  This enables athletes and teams to decide how hard to train and how much they should rest.

Commenting on the impact of the Loughborough expertise, Ashley Jones, the Canterbury Crusaders Physical Performance Co-Ordinator / Strength & Conditioning Coach from 2004 - 11, said: “With the use of Restwise (the software) we were able to ascertain which players needed extra sessions for recovery and also seeing which recovery modalities worked best with players, so in effect individualising the recovery as we do our physical training.”

“Recovery isn’t just important, it’s a biological necessity,” said Dr Neville. “Too little recovery and you slowly grind yourself down, risking both impaired performance and lowered immune function.   Too much recovery and you don’t introduce enough stress to trigger physiological adaptation.   You don’t get fitter, stronger and faster.”  He continued:  “Without a way to consistently and easily monitor recovery during high demand training or competition periods such as during the Rugby World Cup, even the best trained teams are at risk of over-fatigue or injury.  This could well be the deciding factor in the outcome of the World Cup.”

Restwise has already been part of 38 world championship wins, gaining the respect of coaches and practitioners from the world of professional rugby, cycling and sailing as well as a host of Olympic sports.

Professor Myra Nimmo, Head of Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences where Vern undertook his PhD commented:  “Restwise is an excellent example of how our world leading scientific research can be translated to deliver real impact in optimising sport performance.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager (Enterprise)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk 

For all Restwise enquiries contact:

Ashley Gray
T: 07894444545
E: ash@restwise.co.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday October 19, 2011 8:55