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Comparison of Body Cooling Methods on Physiological and Perceptual Measures of Mildly Hyperthermic Athletes

DeMartini, Julie K1; Ranalli, Gregory F1; Casa, Douglas J1; Lopez, Rebecca M2; Ganio, Matthew S3; Stearns, Rebecca L1; McDermott, Brendon P4; Armstrong, Lawrence E1; Maresh, Carl M1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 8 - pp 2065-2074
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182259b1d
Original Research

DeMartini, JK, Ranalli, GF, Casa, DJ, Lopez, RM, Ganio, MS, Stearns, RL, McDermott, BP, Armstrong, LE, and Maresh, CM. Comparison of body cooling methods on physiological and perceptual measures of mildly hyperthermic athletes. J Strength Cond Res 25(8): 2065-2074, 2011—Hyperthermia is common among athletes and in a variety of environments. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of cooling methods on core body temperature, heart rate (HR), and perceptual readings in individuals after exercise. Sixteen subjects (age: 24 ± 6 years, height: 182 ± 7 cm, weight: 74.03 ± 9.17 kg, and body fat: 17.08 ± 6.23%) completed 10 exercise sessions in warm conditions (WBGT: 26.64 ± 4.71°C) followed by body cooling by 10 different methods. Cooling methods included cold water immersion (CWI), shade, Port-a-Cool® (FAN), Emergency Cold Containment System® (ECCS), Rehab. Hood® (HOOD), Game Ready Active Cooling Vest™ (GRV), Nike Ice Vest™ (NIV), ice buckets (IBs), and ice towels (IT). These cooling modes were compared with a control (SUN). Rectal temperature (Tre), HR, thermal sensation, thirst sensation, and a 56-question Environmental Symptoms Questionnaire (ESQ) were used to assess physiological and perceptual data. Average Tre after exercise across all trials was 38.73 ± 0.12°C. After 10 minutes of cooling, CWI (−0.65 ± 0.29°C), ECCS (−0.68 ± 0.24°C), and IB (−0.74 ± 0.34°C) had significantly (p < 0.006) greater decreases in Tre compared with that in SUN (−0.42 ± 0.15°C). The HR after 10 minutes of cooling was significantly (p < 0.006) lower for CWI (82 ± 15 b·min−1), ECCS (87 ± 14 b·min−1), and IT (84 ± 15 b·min−1) when compared with SUN (101 ± 15 b·min−1). The thermal sensation between modalities was all significantly (p < 0.006) lower (CWI: 1.5 ± 0.5; Fan: 3.0 ± 1.0; ECCS: 4.5 ± 1.0; Hood: 4.5 ± 0.5; GRV: 4.0 ± 0.5; NIV: 4.5 ± 1.0; IB: 4.0 ± 1.0; IT: 3.0 ± 1.0) when compared with SUN (5.5 ± 0.5), except for Shade (5.0 ± 1.0). There were no significant differences (p > 0.006) in thirst sensation between modalities. The ESQ scores were significantly (p < 0.006) lower for CWI (1 ± 6), Fan (4 ± 5), and IT (3 ± 8) compared with that for SUN (13 ± 12). In conclusion, when athletes experience mild hyperthermia, CWI, ECCS, and IB resulted in a significantly greater decrease in Tre. These cooling strategies are recommended to decrease Tre during a brief recovery period between exercise bouts.

1Korey Stringer Institute, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut; 2Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; 3Department of Health Science, Kinesiology, Recreation and Dance, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas; and 4Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Address correspondence to Julie K. DeMartini,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association