Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Cold water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing muscle soreness after exercise
  1. Joanna Diong1,2,
  2. Steven J Kamper2,3
  1. 1Discipline of Biomedical Science, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, EMGO+ Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanna Diong, Discipline of Biomedical Science, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia; joanna.diong{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

▸ Bleakley C, McDonough S, et al. Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012;2:CD008262.


Intense exercise involving eccentric muscle contractions often leads to delayed onset muscle soreness. Eccentric muscle contractions cause damage to muscle fibres which lead to pain, stiffness and loss in joint range of motion.1 The anti-inflammatory effects of cold water immersion, a form of cryotherapy where the limb(s) or body is submerged in a cold water bath, are thought to reduce pain and swelling following acute soft tissue injury.2 Cold water immersion immediately after exercise may have anti-inflammatory effects and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, however these effects remain unclear.


This study aimed to determine the effects of cold water immersion on the prevention of muscle soreness after exercise.

Searches and inclusion criteria

The following databases were searched up to 2010 or 2011: the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro and British Nursing Index and archive. The authors also searched databases for ongoing trials and hand-searched journals and conference proceedings. Experts in the field were contacted for relevant data from published, unpublished or ongoing studies.

Randomised and quasi-randomised trials examining cold water immersion for preventing muscle soreness after exercise were included. Participants had to receive cold …

View Full Text


  • Contributors JD selected the systematic review and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. JD and SK contributed to interpretation of the data and revision of the manuscript, and are guarantors.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This manuscript is a summary of a published systematic review of interventions on human subjects.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles