European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 102, Issue 4, pp 447–455 | Cite as

Effect of hydrotherapy on the signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness

  • Joanna VaileEmail author
  • Shona Halson
  • Nicholas Gill
  • Brian Dawson
Original Article


This study independently examined the effects of three hydrotherapy interventions on the physiological and functional symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Strength trained males (n = 38) completed two experimental trials separated by 8 months in a randomised crossover design; one trial involved passive recovery (PAS, control), the other a specific hydrotherapy protocol for 72 h post-exercise; either: (1) cold water immersion (CWI: = 12), (2) hot water immersion (HWI: = 11) or (3) contrast water therapy (CWT: = 15). For each trial, subjects performed a DOMS-inducing leg press protocol followed by PAS or one of the hydrotherapy interventions for 14 min. Weighted squat jump, isometric squat, perceived pain, thigh girths and blood variables were measured prior to, immediately after, and at 24, 48 and 72 h post-exercise. Squat jump performance and isometric force recovery were significantly enhanced (< 0.05) at 24, 48 and 72 h post-exercise following CWT and at 48 and 72 h post-exercise following CWI when compared to PAS. Isometric force recovery was also greater (< 0.05) at 24, 48, and 72 h post-exercise following HWI when compared to PAS. Perceived pain improved (< 0.01) following CWT at 24, 48 and 72 h post-exercise. Overall, CWI and CWT were found to be effective in reducing the physiological and functional deficits associated with DOMS, including improved recovery of isometric force and dynamic power and a reduction in localised oedema. While HWI was effective in the recovery of isometric force, it was ineffective for recovery of all other markers compared to PAS.


Recovery Eccentric exercise Water immersion Performance 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Australian Institute of Sport and Waikato Institute of Technology for funding the aforementioned studies. In addition, Professor Will Hopkins is acknowledged for his assistance with the statistical analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Vaile
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shona Halson
    • 1
  • Nicholas Gill
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brian Dawson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyAustralian Institute of SportBelconnenAustralia
  2. 2.School of Sport and Exercise ScienceWaikato Institute of TechnologyHamiltonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Division of Sport and RecreationAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.School of Human Movement and Exercise ScienceUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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