Cold-water or partial-body cryotherapy? Comparison of physiological responses and recovery following muscle damage

E. Hohenauer, J. T. Costello, R. Stoop, U. M. Küng, P. Clarys, T. Deliens, R. Clijsen

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The aim of this study is to compare (a) the physiological responses following cold-water immersion (CWI) and partial-body cryotherapy (PBC) and (b) the effects on recovery following a muscle-damaging protocol (5 × 20 drop jumps). Nineteen healthy males were randomly allocated into either a CWI (10°C for 10 minutes; n = 9) or a PBC (−60°C for 30 seconds, −135°C for 2 minutes; n = 10) group. The physiological variables (thigh muscle oxygen saturation [SmO2], cutaneous vascular conductance [CVC], mean arterial pressure [MAP], and local skin temperature) were assessed immediately prior and up to 60 minutes post-treatment (10-minutes intervals). The recovery variables (thigh muscle swelling, maximum voluntary contraction [MVC] of the right knee extensors, vertical jump performance [VJP], and delayed onset of muscle soreness [DOMS]) were measured immediately prior and up to 72 hours post-treatment (24-hours intervals). Compared to PBC values, CVC (at 30 minutes), SmO2 (at 40 minutes), and lower extremity skin temperature (thigh/shin at 60 minutes) were significantly reduced in the CWI group after the treatment (all P < .05). Only lower extremity skin temperature was significantly reduced in the PBC group directly post-treatment (all P < .05). MAP significantly increased in both groups after the treatments (both P < .05). DOMS did not differ between groups. MVC and VJP returned to baseline in both groups after 24 hours (P > .05). CWI had a greater impact on the physiological response compared to PBC. However, both treatments resulted in similar recovery profiles during a 72-hours follow-up period.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusEarly online - 13 Dec 2017


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