Post-exercise leg and forearm flexor muscle cooling in humans attenuates endurance and resistance training effects on muscle performance and on circulatory adaptation
The influence of regular post-exercise cold application to exercised muscles trained by ergometer cycling (leg muscles) or handgrip exercise using a weight-loaded handgrip ergometer (forearm flexor muscles) was studied in human volunteers. Muscle loads were applied during exercise programs three to four times a week for 4–6 weeks. Besides measuring parameters characterizing muscle performance, femoral and brachial artery diameters were determined ultrasonographically. Training effects were identified by comparing pre- and post-training parameters in matched groups separately for the trained limbs cooled after exercise by cold-water immersion and the corresponding trained limbs kept at room temperature. Significant training effects were three times more frequent in the control than in the cold group, including increases in artery diameters in the control but not in the cold group. It is concluded that training-induced molecular and humoral adjustments, including muscle hyperthermia, are physiological, transient and essential for training effects (myofiber regeneration, muscle hypertrophy and improved blood supply). Cooling generally attenuates these temperature-dependent processes and, in particular, hyperthermia-induced HSP formation. This seems disadvantageous for training, in contrast to the beneficial combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation in the treatment of macroscopic musculo-tendinous damage.