The use of cryotherapy as a recovery intervention is prevalent amongst athletes. Performance of high volume, heavy load resistance exercise is known to result in disturbances of muscle function, perceptual responses and blood borne parameters. Therefore, this study investigated the influence of cold water immersion (CWI), whole body cryotherapy (WBC) or a placebo (PL) intervention on markers of recovery following an acute resistance training session.
24 resistance trained males were matched into a CWI (10 min at 10 °C), WBC (3- and 4 min at − 85 °C) or PL group before completing a lower body resistance training session. Perceptions of soreness and training stress, markers of muscle function, inflammation and efflux of intracellular proteins were assessed before, and up to 72 h post exercise.
The training session resulted in increased soreness, disturbances of muscle function, and increased inflammation and efflux of intracellular proteins. Although WBC attenuated soreness at 24 h, and positively influenced peak force at 48 h compared to CWI and PL, many of the remaining outcomes were trivial, unclear or favoured the PL condition. With the exception of CRP at 24 h, neither cryotherapy intervention attenuated the inflammatory response compared to PL.
There was some evidence to suggest that WBC is more effective than CWI at attenuating select perceptual and functional responses following resistance training. However, neither cryotherapy intervention was more effective than the placebo treatment at accelerating recovery. The implications of these findings should be carefully considered by individuals employing cryotherapy as a recovery strategy following heavy load resistance training.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Counter movement jump
Cold water immersion
Daily analysis of the lifestyle demands of athletes
Dual X-say absorptiometry
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
Maximal voluntary isometric contraction
Rate of force development
Reactive strength index
Tumour necrosis factor-α
Whole body cryotherapy
Abaïdia AE, Lamblin J, Delecroix B, Leduc C, McCall A, Nédélec M, Dupont G et al (2016) Recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: cold water immersion versus whole body cryotherapy. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0012
Armstrong RB, Warren GL, Warren JA (1991) Mechanisms of exercise-induced muscle fibre injury. Sports Med 12(3):184–207. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199112030-00004
Ascensão A, Leite M, Rebelo AN, Magalhäes S, Magalhäes J (2011) Effects of cold water immersion on the recovery of physical performance and muscle damage following a one-off soccer match. J Sports Sci 29(3):217–225. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2010.526132
Bartolomei S, Hoffman JR, Merni F, Stout JR (2014) A comparison of traditional and block periodized strength training programs in trained athletes. J Strength Cond Res 28(4):990–997
Batterham AM, Hopkins WG (2006) Making meaningful inferences about magnitudes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 1(1):50–57
Bleakley C, Mcdonough S, Gardner E, Baxter GD, Ty J, Davison GW (2012) Cold water immersion cryotherapy for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD008262.pub2.Copyright
Bleakley CM, Bieuzen F, Davison GW, Costello JT (2014) Whole-body cryotherapy: empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives. Open Access J Sports Med 5:25–36. https://doi.org/10.2147/OAJSM.S41655
Broatch JR, Petersen A, Bishop DJ (2014) Postexercise cold water immersion benefits are not greater than the Placebo effect. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46(11):2139–2147. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000348
Byrne C, Eston R (2002) The effect of exercise-induced muscle damage on isometric and dynamic knee extensor strength and vertical jump performance. J Sports Sci 20(5):417–425. https://doi.org/10.1080/026404102317366672
Chavda S, Bromley T, Jarvis P, Williams S, Bishop C, Turner AN, Mundy PD et al (2017) Force-time characteristics of the countermovement jump: analyzing the curve in excel. Strength Cond J 40:67–77
Clarkson PM, Hubal MJ (2002) Exercise-induced muscle damage in humans. Am J Phys Med Rehabil Assoc Acad Physiatr 81(11 Suppl):S52–S69. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.PHM.0000029772.45258.43
Costello JT, Donnelly AE, Karki A, Selfe J (2014) Effects of whole body cryotherapy and cold water immersion on knee skin temperature. Int J Sports Med 35(1):35–40. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1343410
Crowley E, Harrison AJ, Lyons M (2017) The impact of resistance training on swimming performance: a systematic review. Sports Med 47:2285–2307
Day ML, Mcguigan MR, Brice G, Foster C (2004) Monitoring exercise intensity during resistance training using the session RPE scale. J Strength Cond Res 18(2):353–358
de Ruiter CJ, van der Linden RM, van der Zijden MJ a, Hollander, a P, de Haan, a (2003) Short-term effects of whole-body vibration on maximal voluntary isometric knee extensor force and rate of force rise. Eur J Appl Physiol 88(4–5):472–475. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0723-0
Dowse RA, McGuigan MR, Harrison C (2017) Effects of a resistance training intervention on strength, power, and performance in adolescent dancers. J Strength Cond Res. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000002288
Flanagan EP, Comyns TM (2008) The use of contact time and the reactive strength index to optimize fast stretch-shortening cycle training. Strength Cond J 30(5):32–38
Fulford J, Eston RG, Rowlands AV, Davies RC (2015) Assessment of magnetic resonance techniques to measure muscle damage 24 h after eccentric exercise. Scand J Med Sci Sports 25(1):e28–e39. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12234
Hayter KJ, Doma K, Schumann M, Deakin GB (2016) The comparison of cold-water immersion and cold air therapy on maximal cycling performance and recovery markers following strength exercises. Peer J 4(e1841):1–17. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1841
Hohenauer E, Costello JT, Stoop R, Küng UM, Clarys P, Deliens T, Clijsen R (2018) Cold-water or partial-body cryotherapy? Comparison of physiological responses and recovery following muscle damage. Scand J Med Sci Sports 28(3):1252–1262. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13014
Hopkins WG (2015) Spreadsheets for analysis of controlled trials with adjustment for a predictor. Sport Sci 10:46–50
Hopkins WG, Marshall SW, Batterham AM, Hanin J (2009) Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41(1):3–12. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31818cb278
Jakeman JR, Macrae R, Eston R (2009) A single 10-min bout of cold-water immersion therapy after strenuous plyometric exercise has no beneficial effect on recovery from the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Ergonomics 52(4):456–460
Jakeman JR, Byrne C, Eston RG (2010) Lower limb compression garment improves recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in young, active females. Eur J Appl Physiol 109(6):1137–1144. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1464-0
Khan MA, Moiz JA, Raza S, Verma S, Shareef MY, Anwer S, Alghadir A (2016) Physical and balance performance following exercise induced muscle damage in male soccer players. J Phys Ther Sci 18(10):2942–2949. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.2942
Leeder J, Gissane C, van Someren K, Gregson W, Howatson G (2012) Cold water immersion and recovery from strenuous exercise: a meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 46(4):233–240. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2011-090061
Leeder J, van Someren K, Gaze D, Jewell A, Deshmukh NIK, Shah I, Howatson G et al (2014) Recovery and adaptation from repeated intermittent-sprint exercise. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 9(3):489–496. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2012-0316
Machado AF, Ferreira PH, Micheletti JK, de Almeida AC, Lemes ÍR, Vanderlei FM, Pastre CM et al (2016) Can water temperature and immersion time influence the effect of cold water immersion on muscle soreness? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med 46(4):503–514. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0431-7
Maffiuletti NA, Aagaard P, Blazevich AJ, Folland J, Tillin N, Duchateau J (2016) Rate of force development: physiological and methodological considerations. Eur J Appl Physiol. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-016-3346-6
Mawhinney C, Low DA, Jones H, Green DJ, Costello JT, Gregson W (2017) Water mediates greater reductions in limb blood flow than whole body cryotherapy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001223
McClung M, Collins D (2007) Because I know it will!”: placebo effects of an ergogenic aid on athletic performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol 29(3):382–394
McLeay Y, Barnes MJ, Mundel T, Hurst SM, Hurst RD, Stannard SR (2012) Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 9(1):19. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-19
Minett GM, Costello JT (2015) Specificity and context in post-exercise recovery: it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Front Physiol 6:1–3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2015.00130
Nevill A, Lane A (2007) Why self-report “Likert” scale data should not be log-transformed. J Sports Sci 25(1):1–2. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410601111183
Norton LE, Layman DK (2006) Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr 136(2):533S–537S
Peñailillo L, Blazevich A, Numazawa H, Nosaka K (2015) Rate of force development as a measure of muscle damage. Scand J Med Sci Sports 25(3):417–427. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12241
Roberts LA, Nosaka K, Coombes JS, Peake JM (2015a) Cold water immersion enhances recovery of submaximal muscle function following resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00180.2014
Roberts LA, Raastad T, Markworth JF, Figueiredo VC, Egner IM, Shield A, Peake JM et al (2015b) Post-exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long-term adaptations in muscle to strength training. J Physiol 593(18):4285–4301. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP270570
Savic M, Fonda B, Sarabon N (2013) Actual temperature during and thermal response after whole-body cryotherapy in cryo-cabin. J Therm Biol 38(4):186–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2013.02.004
Selfe J, Alexander J, Costello JT, May K, Garratt N, Atkins S, Richards J et al (2014) The effect of three different (-135 °C) whole body cryotherapy exposure durations on elite rugby league players. PloS One 9(1):e86420. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086420
Tee J, Bosch A, Lambert M (2007) Metabolic consequences of exercise-induced muscle damage. Sports Med 37(10):827–836
Tipton MJ, Collier N, Massey H, Corbett J, Harper M (2017) Cold water immersion: kill or cure? Exp Physiol 102(11):1335–1355. https://doi.org/10.1113/EP086283
Vaile JM, Gill ND, Blazevich AJ (2007) The effect of contrast water therapy on symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res 21(3):697–702
Vaile J, Halson S, Gill N, Dawson B (2008) Effect of hydrotherapy on the signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. Eur J Appl Physiol 102:447–455. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-007-0605-6
Wathen D (1994) Load assignment. In: Baechle TR (ed) Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human Kinetics, Champaign, pp 435–446
White GGE, Rhind SSG, Wells GGD (2014) The effect of various cold-water immersion protocols on exercise-induced inflammatory response and functional recovery from high-intensity sprint exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2954-2
Wilson LJ, Cockburn E, Paice K, Sinclair S, Faki T, Hills FA, Dimitriou L et al (2018) Recovery following a marathon: a comparison of cold water immersion, whole body cryotherapy and a placebo control. Eur J Appl Physiol 118(1):153–163. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-017-3757-z
No external funding was received for this work.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Communicated by George Havenith.
About this article
Cite this article
Wilson, L.J., Dimitriou, L., Hills, F.A. et al. Whole body cryotherapy, cold water immersion, or a placebo following resistance exercise: a case of mind over matter?. Eur J Appl Physiol 119, 135–147 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-018-4008-7
- Muscle damage
- Muscle function
- Resistance training