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To compare the effects of cold-water immersion (CWI) and whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) on recovery kinetics after exercise-induced muscle damage.
Ten physically active men performed single-leg hamstring eccentric exercise comprising 5 sets of 15 repetitions. Immediately postexercise, subjects were exposed in a randomized crossover design to CWI (10 min at 10°C) or WBC (3 min at –110°C) recovery. Creatine kinase concentrations, knee-flexor eccentric (60°/s) and posterior lower-limb isometric (60°) strength, single-leg and 2-leg countermovement jumps, muscle soreness, and perception of recovery were measured. The tests were performed before and immediately, 24, 48, and 72 h after exercise.
Results showed a very likely moderate effect in favor of CWI for single-leg (effect size [ES] = 0.63; 90% confidence interval [CI] = –0.13 to 1.38) and 2-leg countermovement jump (ES = 0.68; 90% CI = –0.08 to 1.43) 72 h after exercise. Soreness was moderately lower 48 h after exercise after CWI (ES = –0.68; 90% CI = –1.44 to 0.07). Perception of recovery was moderately enhanced 24 h after exercise for CWI (ES = –0.62; 90% CI = –1.38 to 0.13). Trivial and small effects of condition were found for the other outcomes.
CWI was more effective than WBC in accelerating recovery kinetics for countermovement-jump performance at 72 h postexercise. CWI also demonstrated lower soreness and higher perceived recovery levels across 24–48 h postexercise.
Abaïdia, Delecroix, Baquet, and Dupont are with the Multidisciplinary Research Unit Sport, Health and Society, Université de Lille, Lille, France. Lamblin is with the Research Dept, LOXC Lille Métropole, Camphinen-Pévèle, France. Leduc is with the University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France. McCall is with Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Nédélec is with the French National Inst of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP), Paris, France. Dawson is with the University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia.