Comparison of the Effects of Electrical Stimulation and Cold-Water Immersion on Muscle Soreness After Resistance Exercise

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Resistance training is a common form of exercise for competitive and recreational athletes. Enhancing recovery from resistance training may improve the muscle-remodeling processes, stimulating a faster return to peak performance.

Objective:

To examine the effects of 2 different recovery modalities, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and cold-water immersion (CWI), on performance and biochemical and ultrasonographic measures.

Participants:

Thirty resistance-trained men (23.1 ± 2.9 y, 175.2 ± 7.1 cm, 82.1 ± 8.4 kg) were randomly assigned to NMES, CWI, or control (CON).

Design and Setting:

All participants completed a high-volume lower-body resistance-training workout on d 1 and returned to the human performance laboratory 24 (24H) and 48 h (48H) postexercise for follow-up testing.

Measures:

Blood samples were obtained preexercise (PRE) and immediately (IP), 30 min (30P), 24 h (24H), and 48 h (48H) post. Subjects were examined for performance changes in the squat exercise (total repetitions and average power per repetition), biomarkers of inflammation, and changes in cross-sectional area and echo intensity (EI) of the rectus femoris (RF) and vastus lateralis muscles.

Results:

No differences between groups were observed in the number of repetitions (P = .250; power: P = .663). Inferential-based analysis indicated that increases in C-reactive protein concentrations were likely increased by a greater magnitude after CWI compared with CON, while NMES possibly decreased more than CON from IP to 24H. Increases in interleukin-10 concentrations between IP and 30P were likely greater in CWI than NMES but not different from CON. Inferential-based analysis of RF EI indicated a likely decrease for CWI between IP and 48H. No other differences between groups were noted in any other muscle-architecture measures.

Conclusions:

Results indicated that CWI induced greater increases in pro- and anti-inflammatory markers, while decreasing RF EI, suggesting that CWI may be effective in enhancing short-term muscle recovery after high-volume bouts of resistance exercise.

Jajtner, Hoffman, Gonzalez, Fragala, and Stout are with the Inst of Exercise Science and Wellness, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL. Worts is with the Dept of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

Address author correspondence to Jay Hoffman at jay.hoffman@ucf.edu.