PURPOSE:Cold-water immersion (CWI) is a frequently used modality to treat Delayed-Onset Muscle-Soreness (DOMS); however its effectiveness in attenuating performance decrements remains unclear. Therefore we examined CWI effectiveness in reducing the negative effects of DOMS on single-leg triple hop performance (SLTH) in competitive distance runners.
METHODS:Twelve male distance runners (Age: 19.25±1.14yrs, Height: 177.91±3.96cm, Weight: 65.44±4.77kg) participated in four consecutive days of testing. Baselines (D1) on single leg triple hops for total distance (SLTH, cm) and surface electromyography muscle activation (sEMG, mV) on the lateral gastrocnemius (LG), medial and lateral hamstrings (MH, LH) and lateral quadriceps (LQ) were established on Day 1. Bilateral DOMS was then induced with a drop jump protocol. Next, subjects randomly received CWI therapy (13°C for 20 minutes) on one leg (Tr) with the contralateral leg being the control (Cr). On Days 2, 3, and 4 subjects repeated SLTH and sEMG on each leg and received CWI on the same leg (Tr). Separate 2×4 repeated measures ANOVAs examined SLTH and sEMG differences across interventions and days with separate one-way repeated measures ANOVAs examining sEMG differences across days (p≤0.05).
RESULTS: SLTH distances improved slightly between D1 and D4 (233.06±24.96, 244.55±21.17) (P=.028) in Cr after DOMS was induced. In Tr SLTH distances increased significantly between D1 and D4 (226.39±21.07, 255.18±24.92) (P=0.004). Comparisons between Cr and Tr over 4 days found significant differences at D3 (P=.037) and D4 (P=.042). In Tr, muscle activation amplitudes were significantly different across the days in all muscles (LG: p<.001, MH: p<.001, LH: p<.001, LQ: p<.001), with the amplitudes consistently lower than baseline on D2 but recovering to baseline by D3 in all muscles. However, in Cr activation amplitudes were not different in the muscle except in the LQ (p<.001) where amplitudes on D3 were lower than on D1 and D4.
CONCLUSIONS: Using CWI appeared to successfully help recovery as seen on the SLTH and muscle activation amplitudes. Therefore, CWI is a positive treatment modality to improve subsequent performances following DOMS.