The effect of cold water immersion on pain, muscle recruitment and postural control in athletes

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Introduction: Numerous recovery strategies have been used to minimize performance loss related to delayed onset muscle soreness in athletes, and are part of prevention programs and training of most high-level sports. Objective: To analyze the effects of cold-water immersion on delayed-onset muscle soreness, muscle recruitment, and postural control in soccer players. Objective: The maximum load of the quadriceps femoris muscle strength was determined. After three days, the pain scale was used to measure the subject’s pain intensity. The recruitment of the quadriceps muscle was determined at the moment of the kick, and was associated with postural control. Methods: Randomized, blinded clinical trial study. Two repeated series of maximum load sets at 60% MVC, performed in a knee extension chair, were used to induce quadriceps fatigue in the athletes. Participants: Twenty-eight soccer players were allocated to four intervention groups: cold water immersion (CWIG, n = 7), thermoneutral water immersion (TWIG, n = 7), active recovery (ARG, n = 7), and rest (RG, n = 7), with each intervention being carried out for ten minutes. Revaluations were carried out after 24, 48, and 72 hours of the fatigue protocol. Results: Pain intensity in the CWIG returned to baseline after 72 hours, while the TWIG, ARG, and RG continued to feel greater pain. For the other outcomes, no differences were found between the groups. Conclusion: With regard to muscle recruitment and postural control at the time of the kick, no significant differences were found for the time periods or intervention established. Level of evidence I; High-quality randomized clinical trial with or without statistically significant difference, but with narrow confidence intervals.




Pesenti, F. B., da Silva, R. A., Monteiro, D. C., da Silva, L. A., & Macedo, C. de S. G. (2020). The effect of cold water immersion on pain, muscle recruitment and postural control in athletes. Revista Brasileira de Medicina Do Esporte, 26(4), 323–327.

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