This study aimed to compare the efficacy of hot/cold contrast water immersion (CWI), cold-water immersion (COLD) and no recovery treatment (control) as post-exercise recovery methods following exhaustive simulated team sports exercise. Repeated sprint ability, strength, muscle soreness and inflammatory markers were measured across the 48-h post-exercise period. Eleven male team-sport athletes completed three 3-day testing trials, each separated by 2 weeks. On day 1, baseline measures of performance (10 m × 20 m sprints and isometric strength of quadriceps, hamstrings and hip flexors) were recorded. Participants then performed 80 min of simulated team sports exercise followed by a 20-m shuttle run test to exhaustion. Upon completion of the exercise, and 24 h later, participants performed one of the post-exercise recovery procedures for 15 min. At 48 h post-exercise, the performance tests were repeated. Blood samples and muscle soreness ratings were taken before and immediately after post-exercise, and at 24 h and 48 h post-exercise. In comparison to the control and CWI treatments, COLD resulted in significantly lower (p <0.05) muscle soreness ratings, as well as in reduced decrements to isometric leg extension and flexion strength in the 48-h post-exercise period. COLD also facilitated a more rapid return to baseline repeated sprint performances. The only benefit of CWI over control was a significant reduction in muscle soreness 24 h post-exercise. This study demonstrated that COLD following exhaustive simulated team sports exercise offers greater recovery benefits than CWI or control treatments.
Ingram, J. P., Dawson, B., Goodman, C., Wallman, K., & Beilby, J. (2009). Effect of water immersion methods on post-exercise recovery from simulated team sport exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12(3), 417-421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2007.12.011