Effect of water immersion methods on post-exercise recovery from simulated team sport exercise


      This study aimed to compare the efficacy of hot/cold contrast water immersion (CWI), cold-water immersion (COLD) and no recovery treatment (control) as post-exercise recovery methods following exhaustive simulated team sports exercise. Repeated sprint ability, strength, muscle soreness and inflammatory markers were measured across the 48-h post-exercise period. Eleven male team-sport athletes completed three 3-day testing trials, each separated by 2 weeks. On day 1, baseline measures of performance (10 m × 20 m sprints and isometric strength of quadriceps, hamstrings and hip flexors) were recorded. Participants then performed 80 min of simulated team sports exercise followed by a 20-m shuttle run test to exhaustion. Upon completion of the exercise, and 24 h later, participants performed one of the post-exercise recovery procedures for 15 min. At 48 h post-exercise, the performance tests were repeated. Blood samples and muscle soreness ratings were taken before and immediately after post-exercise, and at 24 h and 48 h post-exercise. In comparison to the control and CWI treatments, COLD resulted in significantly lower (p < 0.05) muscle soreness ratings, as well as in reduced decrements to isometric leg extension and flexion strength in the 48-h post-exercise period. COLD also facilitated a more rapid return to baseline repeated sprint performances. The only benefit of CWI over control was a significant reduction in muscle soreness 24 h post-exercise. This study demonstrated that COLD following exhaustive simulated team sports exercise offers greater recovery benefits than CWI or control treatments.


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