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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Mar;28(3):1252-1262. doi: 10.1111/sms.13014. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

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

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Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Landquart, Switzerland.
THIM University of Applied Sciences, Landquart, Switzerland.
Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium.
Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK.


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.


cardiovascular response; cryocabin; muscle damage; muscular recovery

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