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Ice water immersion and delayed onset muscle soreness: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Kylie Louise Sellwood (kyliesellwood{at}
  1. Sports Physicians ACT, Australia
    1. Peter Brukner (p.brukner{at}
    1. Melbourne University, Australia
      1. David Williams (davidaw{at}
      1. Melbourne University, Australia
        1. Alastair Nicol
        1. Melbourne University, Australia
          1. Rana Hinman (ranash{at}
          1. Melbourne University, Australia


            Objective: To determine if ice water immersion after eccentric quadriceps exercise minimizes the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

            Design: A prospective randomized double blind controlled trial was undertaken 40 untrained volunteers performed an eccentric loading protocol of their non-dominant leg.

            Interventions: Participants were randomized to three one-minute immersions in either ice water (5+/- 1°C) or tepid water (24°C). Main outcome measures: Pain and tenderness (visual analogue scale), swelling (thigh circumference), function (one-legged hop for distance), maximal isometric strength and serum CK recorded at baseline, 24, 48 and 72 hours post-exercise. Changes in outcome measures over time were compared to determine the effect of group allocation using independent t-tests or Mann Whitney-U tests.

            Results: No significant differences were observed between groups with regards to changes in most pain parameters, tenderness, isometric strength, swelling, hop- for-distance or serum CK over time. There was a significant difference in pain on sit-to-stand at 24 hours, with the intervention group demonstrating a greater increase in pain than control group (median change 8.0 vs 2.0 mm respectively, p=0.009).

            Conclusions: The protocol of ice water immersion used in this study was ineffectual in minimizing markers of DOMS in untrained individuals. This study challenges the wide use of this intervention as a recovery strategy by athletes.

            • DOMS
            • eccentric exercise
            • ice baths
            • muscle soreness
            • recovery

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