Cold water immersion recovery following intermittent-sprint exercise in the heat

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Cold water immersion recovery following intermittent-sprint exercise in the heat

Monique Pointon • Rob Duffield • Jack Cannon • Frank E. Marino, Springer-Verlag 2011

This study examined the effects of cold water immersion (CWI) on recovery of neuromuscular function following simulated team-sport exercise in the heat.  Specifically the effects of CWI on central and peripherally mediated mechanisms of skeletal muscle recruitment.
Ten male team-sport athletes performed;

  • a protocol with two sessions of a 2 x 30-min intermittent-sprint exercise (ISE) consist of 15-m sprint every minute separated by bouts of hard running, jogging and walking in 32°C and 52% humidity,
  • followed by a intervention 9 x 2 min (followed by 1 min seated at room air temperatur) CWI (9°C) to the level of iliac crest or passive recovery (CONT) in a randomized, crossover design.

Outcome measure;
Voluntary and evoked neuromuscular function, ratings of perceived muscle soreness (MS) and blood markers for muscle damage were measured pre- and post-exercise, immediately post-recovery, 2-h and 24-h post-recovery.

Measures of core temperature (Tcore), heart rate (HR), capillary blood and perceptions of exertion, thermal strain and thirst were also recorded at the aforementioned time points.


 There were no significant differences between conditions for the total distance covered during the exercise protocol 15 m sprint, hard running, jogging and walking.

Post-exercise maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was reduced for 24h and activation (VA) were reduced in 2h. Increased blood markers of muscle damage were observed post-exercise in both conditions and remained elevated for the 24-h recovery period.

Comparative to CONT, CWI had a enhanced rate of reduction in Tcore, HR and MS while increasing in MVC and VA.

Following exercise in the heat, CWI accelerated the reduction in thermal and cardiovascular load, and improved MVC alongside increased central activation immediately and 2-h post-recovery. However, despite improved acute recovery CWI resulted in an attenuated MVC 24-h post-recovery.


In conclusion, CWI recovery following simulated teamsport exercise in the heat enhanced the rate of reduction in Tcore, HR and thermal strain, resulting in improved acute recovery of MVC.

With an increase in VA and RMS observed post-CWI, it is likely that reductions in thermal and cardiovascular strain improved centrally mediated mechanisms increasing skeletal muscle recruitment contributing to ameliorated short-term recovery of MVC.

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