Athletes involved in contact sports are habitually exposed to skeletal-muscle damage in their training and performance environments. This often leads to exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) resulting from repeated eccentric and/or high-intensity exercise and to impact-induced muscle damage (IIMD) resulting from collisions with opponents and the playing surface. While EIMD has been an area of extensive investigation, IIMD has received comparatively little research, with the magnitude and time frame of alterations following IIMD not presently well understood. It is currently thought that EIMD results from an overload of mechanical stress that causes ultrastructural damage to the cellular membrane constituents. Damage leads to compromised ability to produce force, which manifests immediately and persists for up to 14 d following exercise exposure. IIMD has been implicated in attenuated neuromuscular performance and recovery and in inflammatory processes, although the underlying course over time remains unclear. Exposure to EIMD leads to an adaptation to subsequent exposures, a phenomenon known as the repeated-bout effect. An analogous adaptation has been suggested to occur following IIMD; however, to date, this contention remains equivocal. While a considerable body of research has explored the efficacy of recovery strategies following EIMD, strategies promoting recovery from IIMD are limited to investigations using animal contusion models. Strategies such as cryotherapy and antioxidant supplementation that focus on attenuating the secondary inflammatory response may provide additional benefit in IIMD and are explored herein. Further research is required to first establish a model of generating IIMD and then explore broader areas around IIMD in athletic populations.
Mitchell Naughton, Joanna Miller, and Gary J. Slater
Jessica M. Stephens, Shona Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, and Christopher D. Askew
The use of cold-water immersion (CWI) for postexercise recovery has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, but there is a dearth of strong scientific evidence to support the optimization of protocols for performance benefits. While the increase in practice and popularity of CWI has led to multiple studies and reviews in the area of water immersion, the research has predominantly focused on performance outcomes associated with postexercise CWI. Studies to date have generally shown positive results with enhanced recovery of performance. However, there are a small number of studies that have shown CWI to have either no effect or a detrimental effect on the recovery of performance. The rationale for such contradictory responses has received little attention but may be related to nuances associated with individuals that may need to be accounted for in optimizing prescription of protocols. To recommend optimal protocols to enhance athletic recovery, research must provide a greater understanding of the physiology underpinning performance change and the factors that may contribute to the varied responses currently observed. This review focuses specifically on why some of the current literature may show variability and disparity in the effectiveness of CWI for recovery of athletic performance by examining the body temperature and cardiovascular responses underpinning CWI and how they are related to performance benefits. This review also examines how individual characteristics (such as physique traits), differences in water-immersion protocol (depth, duration, temperature), and exercise type (endurance vs maximal) interact with these mechanisms.
Jessica M. Stephens, Shona L. Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Dale W. Chapman, and Christopher D. Askew
Purpose: To explore the influence of body composition on thermal responses to cold-water immersion (CWI) and the recovery of exercise performance. Methods: Male subjects were stratified into 2 groups: low fat (LF; n = 10) or high fat (HF; n = 10). Subjects completed a high-intensity interval test (HIIT) on a cycle ergometer followed by a 15-min recovery intervention (control [CON] or CWI). Core temperature (Tc), skin temperature, and heart rate were recorded continuously. Performance was assessed at baseline, immediately post-HIIT, and 40 min postrecovery using a 4-min cycling time trial (TT), countermovement jump (CMJ), and isometric midthigh pull (IMTP). Perceptual measures (thermal sensation [TS], total quality of recovery [TQR], soreness, and fatigue) were also assessed. Results: Tc and TS were significantly lower in LF than in HF from 10 min (Tc, LF 36.5°C ± 0.5°C, HF 37.2°C ± 0.6°C; TS, LF 2.3 ± 0.5 arbitrary units [a.u.], HF 3.0 ± 0.7 a.u.) to 40 min (Tc, LF 36.1°C ± 0.6°C, HF 36.8°C ±0.7°C; TS, LF 2.3 ± 0.6 a.u., HF 3.2 ± 0.7 a.u.) after CWI (P < .05). Recovery of TT performance was significantly enhanced after CWI in HF (10.3 ± 6.1%) compared with LF (3.1 ± 5.6%, P = .01); however, no differences were observed between HF (6.9% ±5.7%) and LF (5.4% ± 5.2%) with CON. No significant differences were observed between groups for CMJ, IMTP, TQR, soreness, or fatigue in either condition. Conclusion: Body composition influences the magnitude of Tc change during and after CWI. In addition, CWI enhanced performance recovery in the HF group only. Therefore, body composition should be considered when planning CWI protocols to avoid overcooling and maximize performance recovery.
Peter M. Fowler, Wade Knez, Heidi R. Thornton, Charli Sargent, Amy E. Mendham, Stephen Crowcroft, Joanna Miller, Shona Halson, and Rob Duffield
Purpose: To assess the efficacy of a combined light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention to improve team-sport performance following eastward long-haul transmeridian travel. Methods: Twenty physically trained males underwent testing at 09:00 and 17:00 hours local time on 4 consecutive days at home (baseline) and the first 4 days following 21 hours of air travel east across 8 time zones. In a randomized, matched-pairs design, participants traveled with (INT; n = 10) or without (CON; n = 10) a light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention. Performance was assessed via countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, T test, and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Level 1 tests, together with perceptual measures of jet lag, fatigue, mood, and motivation. Sleep was measured using wrist activity monitors in conjunction with self-report diaries. Results: Magnitude-based inference and standardized effect-size analysis indicated there was a very likely improvement in the mean change in countermovement jump peak power (effect size 1.10, ±0.55), and likely improvement in 5-m (0.54, ±0.67) and 20-m (0.74, ±0.71) sprint time in INT compared with CON across the 4 days posttravel. Sleep duration was most likely greater in INT both during travel (1.61, ±0.82) and across the 4 nights following travel (1.28, ±0.58) compared with CON. Finally, perceived mood and motivation were likely worse (0.73, ±0.88 and 0.63, ±0.87) across the 4 days posttravel in CON compared with INT. Conclusions: Combined light exposure and sleep hygiene improved speed and power but not intermittent-sprint performance up to 96 hours following long-haul transmeridian travel. The reduction of sleep disruption during and following travel is a likely contributor to improved performance.
Jessica M. Stephens, Ken Sharpe, Christopher Gore, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Nathan Versey, Jeremiah Peiffer, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, David Crampton, Alan Dunne, Christopher D. Askew, and Shona L. Halson
Purpose: To examine the effect of postexercise cold-water immersion (CWI) protocols, compared with control (CON), on the magnitude and time course of core temperature (T c) responses. Methods: Pooled-data analyses were used to examine the T c responses of 157 subjects from previous postexercise CWI trials in the authors’ laboratories. CWI protocols varied with different combinations of temperature, duration, immersion depth, and mode (continuous vs intermittent). T c was examined as a double difference (ΔΔT c), calculated as the change in T c in CWI condition minus the corresponding change in CON. The effect of CWI on ΔΔT c was assessed using separate linear mixed models across 2 time components (component 1, immersion; component 2, postintervention). Results: Intermittent CWI resulted in a mean decrease in ΔΔT c that was 0.25°C (0.10°C) (estimate [SE]) greater than continuous CWI during the immersion component (P = .02). There was a significant effect of CWI temperature during the immersion component (P = .05), where reductions in water temperature of 1°C resulted in decreases in ΔΔT c of 0.03°C (0.01°C). Similarly, the effect of CWI duration was significant during the immersion component (P = .01), where every 1 min of immersion resulted in a decrease in ΔΔT c of 0.02°C (0.01°C). The peak difference in T c between the CWI and CON interventions during the postimmersion component occurred at 60 min postintervention. Conclusions: Variations in CWI mode, duration, and temperature may have a significant effect on the extent of change in T c. Careful consideration should be given to determine the optimal amount of core cooling before deciding which combination of protocol factors to prescribe.