Three West Ham United sports scientists have teamed up with their old university on a ground-breaking project to enhance footballers' post-match recovery.
Fitness coach Eamon Swift and assistant sports scientist Matt Evans both graduated from Swansea University's Research Centre in Applied Sports, Technology, Exercise and Medicine (A-STEM), while sports science intern Tom Taylor is working with the club as part of this Master of Science qualification.
The trio collaborated with A-STEM's Dr Liam Kilduff and a number of other academics and postgraduate students on the project, which integrates a new recovery method into players' post-game management practices.
Previous research has shown that players can take up to four days to fully recover following a competitive game - something that can become an issue during an often packed fixture list.
Swift said the opportunity to work on a project with his former university had been a beneficial and enjoyable experience, with the recovery management practices now being put into practical use by the players at Chadwell Heath.
Fitness coach Eamon Swift works with the first-team squad
"Player recovery is a key area in professional football and one that we have been looking at for a number of years," said Swift. "When Tom joined us as an intern and the opportunity arose to work with Dr Kilduff on a project of this nature, we were obviously very keen to be involved.
"Swansea University's reputation in elite sport research is second to none - the research Dr Kilduff and his colleagues at A-STEM conduct has real impact in our environment.
"We feel this recovery strategy has great potential in our environment, in particular around periods of intense scheduling and travel demands. A number of our senior players have reported back to me that they feel the recovery method has aided in their post-game recovery."
Dr Kilduff explained that the practises focused on helping tired muscles to recover by increasing blood flow.
"Studies have highlighted that high-intensity running, sprinting, and change of direction are the main components of the game that impact on the physiological recovery of players," he said.
"The study we have just completed with West Ham use well established markers of recovery to examine how a new recovery strategy - based on increased muscle blood flow - may aid players' recovery.
"Preliminary findings in rugby players have shown this technique to have a potential role in the recovery process, especially when coupled with the travel demands placed on professional athletes in the modern game.
"We already have a strong relationship with West Ham, with three of our Sports Science graduates now working at the club. Hopefully this relationship - built on collaboration and knowledge exchange - will continue to develop in the future to benefit the players, the club, and Swansea University's sports science research."
MSc student Taylor, who is spending the 2012/13 season with the Hammers, said he was delighted that the project had been of real benefit to the players he works with on a daily basis.
"After completing my undergraduate Sports Science degree at Swansea," he said. "I decided to apply to study for an MSc degree and Dr Kilduff assisted me with securing an internship at West Ham United alongside my studies.
"I chose to focus on recovery in professional football players because, after discussions with Eamon, it was clear this was an area we felt we could make a real difference to the players' preparation.
"The internship and the opportunity to work on this collaborative research project have allowed me to work with two world-class sports science teams. It has been an excellent experience and it has most definitely enhanced my skills and employability prospects for the future."