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Effect of Cold-Water Immersion on Skeletal Muscle Contractile Properties in Soccer Players

García-Manso, Juan Manuel; Rodríguez-Matoso, Darío; Rodríguez-Ruiz, David; Sarmiento, Samuel; de Saa, Yves; Calderón, Javier

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 2011 - Volume 90 - Issue 5 - p 356-363
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31820ff352
Original Research Articles: Musculoskeletal

Objective: This study was designed to analyze changes in muscle response after cold-water immersion.

Design: The vastus lateralis of the dominant leg was analyzed in 12 professional soccer players from the Spanish 2nd Division B using tensiomyography, before and after four cold-water immersions at 4°C lasting 4 mins each. Core temperature, skin temperature, and heart rate were monitored.

Results: A significant interaction (P ≤ 0.05) was found in muscle deformation between control conditions (5.12 ± 2.27 mm) and (1) immersion 3 (3.64 ± 2.27 mm) and (2) immersion 4 (3.38 ± 1.34 mm). A steady decrease was also observed in response velocity (immersion 1, −7.3%; immersion 2, −25.9%; immersion 3, −30.0%; immersion 4, −36.6%) and contraction velocity (immersion 1, −11.5%; immersion 2, −22.1%; immersion 3, −35.0%; immersion 4, −41.9%), with statistically significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) in relation to the reference values commencing with the third immersion. No significant differences were found between control conditions in subsequent exposures to cold water for the values of response time and contraction time. Sustained time and reaction time showed an increase during repeated exposures and with longer exposure time, although the increase was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: This study shows that repeated cold-water immersions (4 × 4 mins at 4°C) cause considerable alterations to muscle behavior. These alterations significantly affect the state of muscles and their response capacity, particularly in relation to muscle stiffness and muscle contraction velocity.

From the Sports Training Analysis and Planning Laboratory, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (JMG-M, DR-M, DR-R, SS, YdS); and Physiology Laboratory, Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Technical University of Madrid (UPM), Madrid, Spain (JC).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: David Rodríguez-Ruiz, Campus Universitario de Tafira, s/n, Edificio de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte, 35017 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.