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Topical Cooling (Icing) Delays Recovery From Eccentric ExerciseInduced Muscle Damage

Tseng, Ching-Yu1; Lee, Jo-Ping2; Tsai, Yung-Shen2; Lee, Shin-Da3; Kao, Chung-Lan4; Liu, Te-Chih2; Lai, Cheng- Hsiu2; Harris, M. Brennan5; Kuo, Chia-Hua1,3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 5 - p 1354–1361
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318267a22c
Original Research

Abstract: Tseng, C-Y, Lee, J-P, Tsai, Y-S, Lee, S-D, Kao, C-L, Liu, T-C, Lai, C-S, Harris, MB, and Kuo, C-H. Topical Cooling (Icing) Delays Recovery From Eccentric Exercise–Induced Muscle Damage. J Strength Cond Res 27(5): 1354–1361, 2013—It is generally thought that topical cooling can interfere with blood perfusion and may have positive effects on recovery from a traumatic challenge. This study examined the influence of topical cooling on muscle damage markers and hemodynamic changes during recovery from eccentric exercise. Eleven male subjects (age 20.2 ± 0.3 years) performed 6 sets of elbow extension at 85% maximum voluntary load and randomly assigned to topical cooling or sham groups during recovery in a randomized crossover fashion. Cold packs were applied to exercised muscle for 15 minutes at 0, 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after exercise. The exercise significantly elevated circulating creatine kinase-MB isoform (CK-MB) and myoglobin levels. Unexpectedly, greater elevations in circulating CK-MB and myoglobin above the control level were noted in the cooling trial during 48–72 hours of the post-exercise recovery period. Subjective fatigue feeling was greater at 72 hours after topical cooling compared with controls. Removal of the cold pack also led to a protracted rebound in muscle hemoglobin concentration compared with controls. Measures of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-10, IL-1β, and muscle strength during recovery were not influenced by cooling. A peak shift in IL-12p70 was noted during recovery with topical cooling. These data suggest that topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention, seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise–induced muscle damage.

1Department of Physical Education, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei, Taiwan

2Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, Taipei Physical Education College, Taipei, Taiwan

3Department of Physical Therapy, Graduate Institute of Rehabilitation Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

4Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

5Department of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Address correspondence to Dr. Chia-Hua Kuo, kuochiahua@gmail.com.

Ching-Yu Tseng and Jo-Ping Lee are equally contributed to this work.

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.