Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Study Spotlight: Influence of Body Comp and Using Cold Water Immersion

By: Joel Luedke

We have talked about cold water immersion (CWI) before and how it has been shown to be a good recovery tool in many different ways (predominantly with nervous system regulation).  The question still hasn't been answered about how long you need to stay in the cold water in order to get the recovery response.  This study starts taking a look at that question by see how different body types respond to CWI, hot water immersion (HWI) vs. control.

What They Did:
27 male participants were split into three testing groups: 1) low mass and low fat 2) high mass and low fat 3) high mass and high fat.  Each participant did a standardized cycling workout and did so until core temp reached 38.5degC.  The participants then completed 15 minutes in one of the above mentioned interventions.  Core, skin, and muscle temperature along with limb blood flow were recored at baseline, post-exercise, and every 30 min following for recovery for 240 minutes.

What They Found:
Taken right from the study itself-Main Findings: 

  1. CWI caused significant reductions in core and muscle temp and limb blood flow whereas there was no significant change in HWI and CON.
  2. Muscle temp remained lowest during post CWI period in individuals with high mass and low fat compared to those with high mass and high fat and those with low mass and low fat.
  3. Core temp after drop and muscle temp peak drop in response to post exercise CWI were correlated with the body surface area to mass ratio and all measures of adiposity.
  4. Blood flow responses were not different between body composition groups in any recovery condition.

What It All Means:
What appears to be the result of this study is that the lower your body fat they more that the cold water affects you in the given 15 minutes.  While the authors of the study did not look at what would be 'optimal' times for given body types they did show that a difference did occur when using 15 minutes.  This can help guide your practice in potentially requiring larger individuals and those with varying body compositions to stay in the CWI longer to get a more desirable effect for recovery.

This will take some experimentation on your own as the study has not been out yet (we will keep looking) but perception can be a powerful tool to utilize and could make a small difference that could be big changes down the line.

Resource: Stephens, J. Influence of body composition on physiological responses to post-exercise hydrotherapy.  Journal of Sports Sciences.

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