This randomized, controlled, laboratory study was designed to examine the effect of cold water immersion (CWI) as a recovery modality on repeat performance on the yo-yo intermittent recovery test (YIRT), a widely accepted tool for the evaluation of physical performance in soccer, separated by 48 hours.


22 healthy soccer players (13 men and 9 women) participants during the noncompetitive season (All subjects were familiar with CWI and routinely used this procedure as a recovery modality).

  • The YIRT was used to induce volitional fatigue and was administered at baseline and again 48 hours later.
  • Athletes progressively increased sprint speed between markers set 20 m apart until pace was failed. Countermovement vertical jump (CMVJ) was used to assess anaerobic power and was measured before YIRT, immediately post YIRT, and 24 and 48 hours post-YIRT.
  • A visual analog scale was administered immediately, 24 hours and 48 hours post-YIRT to assess perceived fatigue (PF) in the legs.

Participants were randomly placed into the CWI or control group.

  • The CWI condition consisted of immersion to the umbilicus in a 12°C pool for 15 minutes
  • control group sat quietly for 15 minutes.


There were no significant differences between intervention conditions on YIRT performance or PF at 48 hours post-YIRT.

Effect of Yoyo-test

YIRT results showed a significant changes in water content, muscle creatine phosphate, lactate, pH, and glycogen, as well as blood lactate immediately after the YIRT.

Skærmbillede 2015-12-10 kl. 17.21.45Skærmbillede 2015-12-10 kl. 17.24.44

Effect os visual analog Scale

left anchor of ‘‘not tired at all’’ and a right anchor of ‘‘very tired’.

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Effect for CMVJ over 48 hours, but no group differences.

Skærmbillede 2015-12-10 kl. 17.21.02Skærmbillede 2015-12-10 kl. 17.20.22


The main finding in this study was that CWI immediately and 24 hours after the YIRT did not affect subsequent physical performance estimates or perception of fatigue after 48 hours.

Based on the notion that CWI attenuates the inflammatory response, it has been suggested that athletes who receive CWI would have improved performance on the YIRT and decreased lower extremity fatigue over 48 hours, as seen in previously published studies. Alternatively, it is possible that 48 hours of recovery would allow for adequate physiological recovery independent of CWI, consistent with recent studies showing that mean sprint time and CMVJ were unaffected by CWI.


Competitive athletes commonly use CWI after challenging workouts or competitions, in the hope of limiting lower extremity fatigue, as well as preventing decreases in sub- sequent performance. The results of this study indicate that immersion to the umbilicus in 12°C water for 15 minutes immediately after exhaustive exercise and repeated 24 hours later does not affect the physical performance or PF after 48 hours in collegiate soccer players when compared with passive recovery. However, the use of CWI over an entire season cannot be addressed from the present data because we only applied CWI twice over 48 hours.

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