Effect on sport hemolysis of cold water leg immersion in athletes after training sessions

Giuseppe Banfi, Gianluca Melegati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The principal source of increased turnover of erythrocytes in athletes is sport hemolysis, the intravascular hemolysis that characteristically occurs with athletic performance in sport. The use of the parameter mean sphered cell volume (MSCV), automatically measured by means of the Coulter LH750, could be useful for diagnosing the presence of sport hemolysis. We studied the behavior of MSCV and mean corpuscular volume (MCV) in 30 top-level rugby players who underwent a heavy training session followed by 3 different recovery methods, administered to 3 subgroups of 10 athletes. We tested the use of active recovery consisting of cold water (5°C) immersion of legs for 10 minutes either before (n = 10) or after (n = 10) cycling at 180 W for 10 minutes. In the whole group of athletes, measurements performed at rest and after training session and recovery showed no differences in MCV and MSCV values. The difference between MCV and MSCV was significant in the whole group and in the subgroup performing passive recovery, whereas the difference was not significant in the subgroups performing active recovery. This finding indicates that the use of active recovery in the top-level rugby players prevented the modifications of erythrocyte volume and shape. We outline that the values of the difference between MCV and MSCV was significantly modified in the whole group but the variations were not significant in the active recovery subgroups. The use of an index of erythrocyte shape modification (MCV - MSCV) can be very useful for evaluating sport hemolysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-18
Number of pages4
JournalLaboratory Hematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • Mean sphered cell volume
  • Rugby
  • Sport hemolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Hematology


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