Background Delayed onset muscle soreness, induced by strenuous exercise, is one of the most common recurrent forms of sports injury and is associated with exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD).
Objective We examined the effects of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) on biochemical markers, pain, and performance parameters during a 5-day recovery period after a damaging plyometric exercise. We hypothesized that WBC would have beneficial effects on muscle recovery after such an exercise bout.
Design Randomized crossover study design.
Setting Recreational athletes.
Participants 11 recreational male athletes volunteered in this study. Inclusion criteria were that the subjects were familiar with plyometric exercise, but they did not perform this type of exercise for at least 3 months prior to the study, were not injured or receiving any medications in the last 9 months, and were within normal baseline levels for biochemical markers.
Interventions Participants completed a bout of damaging exercise for the hamstring muscles on two separate occasions separated by 10 weeks. During the control condition, subjects received no treatment after the damaging exercise. The experimental condition consisted of WBC everyday during the recovery period. WBC included single 3-min daily exposures to low temperatures (–140 to –195 °C) in the cryo-cabin.
Main outcome measurements Biochemical markers, perceived pain sensation, squat- and counter movement-jump, maximal and explosive isometric torque production.
Results Majority of the observed variables showed statistically significant time effects (P<.05) in control group, which indicates the presence of muscle damage. Significant interaction between the control and WBC condition was evident for the rate of torque development (P<.05). Pain measures substantially differed between the WBC and the control condition after the exercise.
Conclusions The results of the present study do not provide conclusive support for the use of WBC as a technique to enhance functional recovery after EIMD.
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