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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Study Spotlight: Effect of cold vs. ice water immersion on recovery from intermittent running exercise

By: Joel Luedke

Cold water immersion (aka hoping in the cold tub) has been long used as a form of recovery in hopes of reducing soreness and coming back feeling more fresh for the next round of workouts.  The science behind its use waivers and you can pick and choose what ones fit your argument.  Does it really help soreness?  It is hard to say.  Can it help you body down regulate and set you up for enhanced recovery?  That is definitely a possibility.


This study seems to challenge all of these ideas in something new.  Find out more below.


What They Did:
This research project looked at how cold vs ice water immersion compared to a control group in 9 male team sport players.  Exercise was performed and then each group took part in a 12 minute immersion or just a control of doing nothing.  Maximal cycle performance and markers of recovery were measured before and in the 0-72 hours after exercise.

What They Found:
What they authors found is that peak power was impaired when in both the cold and ice water immersion when compared to the control.  After 72 hours of immersion the groups seemed to recoup peak power compared to control but it did take time.

What It All Means:
Based on this study it would show that doing cold or ice water after high intensity exercise would not be a good idea when it comes to trying to do repeated bouts of high intensity exercise within the following 3 days.  It shows that there could be potential to have a decrease in performance in terms of power output.  This could obviously be detrimental for games or important training sessions following major outputs of power and performance.  There is potential that after the three days you could still have your output at pre-exercise levels but you have to know if that is a risk you'd like to take.

Limitations:
The hard part about this study is such a small sample size.  9 isn't large (but we have to start somewhere) and that hurts how applicable you can make it across the board.  Also, as with any study, it focuses on specific tests and how people respond to certain exercises.   I think until this study is repeated and also can potentially be done on a larger scale.  Until that time, do your own trial and error and see what works best for you.

Resource: Anderson, D.  Effect of cold (14degC) vs. ice (5degC) water immersion on recovery from intermittent running exercise.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2017.



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