Cryotherapy Reinvented: Application of Phase Change Material for Recovery in Elite Soccer

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To examine whether donning lower-body garments fitted with cooled phase change material (PCM) would enhance recovery after a soccer match. Methods: In a randomized, crossover design, 11 elite soccer players from the reserve squad of a team in the second-highest league in England wore PCM cooled to 15°C (PCMcold) or left at ambient temperature (PCMamb; sham control) for 3 h after a soccer match. To assess recovery, countermovement jump height, maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MIVC), muscle soreness, and the adapted Brief Assessment of Mood Questionnaire (BAM+) were measured before 12, 36, and 60 h after each match. A belief questionnaire was completed preintervention and postintervention to determine the perceived effectiveness of each garment. Results: Results are comparisons between the 2 conditions at each time point postmatch. MIVC at 36 h postmatch was greater with PCMcold versus PCMwarm (P = .01; ES = 1.59; 95% CI, 3.9–17.1%). MIVC also tended to be higher at 60 h postmatch (P = .05; ES = 0.85; 95% CI, −0.4% to 11.1%). Muscle soreness was 26.5% lower in PCMcold versus PCMwarm at 36 h (P = .02; ES = 1.7; 95% CI, −50.4 to −16.1 mm) and 24.3% lower at 60 h (P = .04; ES = 1.1; 95% CI, −26.9 to −0.874 mm). There were no between-conditions differences in postmatch countermovement jump height or BAM+ (P > .05). The belief questionnaire revealed that players felt the PCMcold was more effective than the PCMamb after the intervention (P = .004). Conclusions: PCM cooling garments provide a practical means of delivering prolonged postexercise cooling and thereby accelerate recovery in elite soccer players.

Clifford is with the School of Biomedical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Abbott is with the School of Sport and Service Management, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom, and American Express Elite Performance Centre, Brighton and Hove Albion F.C., Lancing, United Kingdom. Kwiecien and McHugh are with the Nicholas Inst of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY. Clifford, Kwiecien, Howatson, and McHugh are with the Dept of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Howatson is also with Water Research Group, School of Environmental Sciences and Development, Northwest University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.

McHugh (mchugh@nismat.org) is corresponding author.
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