The Comparative Effect of Different Timings of Whole Body Cryotherapy Treatment with Cold Water Immersion for Post-Downhill Run Recovery

Adnan Haq, William Ribbans, Anthony Baross

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Despite several established benefits of Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) for post-exercise recovery, there is a scarcity of research which has identified the optimum WBC protocol for this purpose. This study investigated the influence of WBC treatment timing on responses following a bout of downhill running, an eccentrically biased muscle damaging exercise model. An additional purpose was to compare such responses with those following cold water immersions (CWI), since there is no clear consensus as to which cold modality is more effective for supporting athletic recovery. Following institutional ethical approval, 33 male participants (mean ± SD age 37.0 ± 13.3 years, height 1.76 ± 0.07m, body mass 79.5 ± 13.7kg) were randomly allocated into WBC 1 hour (WBC1, n=9), WBC 4 hour (WBC4, n=8), CWI (n=8) and control (CON, n=8) groups. Participants completed a 30 minute downhill run (15% gradient) at 60% VO2 max. WBC1 and WBC4 participants underwent cryotherapy (3 minutes, -120°C) 1 hour or 4 hours post-run respectively. CWI participants were immersed in cold water (10 minutes, 15°C) up to the waist 1 hour post-run. CON participants passively recovered in a controlled environment (20°C). Maximal isometric leg muscle torque was assessed pre and 24 hours post-run. Blood creatine kinase (CK), muscle soreness, femoral artery blood flow, plasma IL-6 and sleep were also assessed pre and post-treatment. There were significant decreases in muscle torque for WBC4 (263.5 ± 62.5 Nm vs. 231.0 ± 47.2 Nm, 10.9%, p=0.04) and CON (230.9 ± 53.9 Nm vs. 205.4 ± 52.6 Nm, 11.3%, p=0.00) and no significant decreases for WBC1 (258.2 ± 34.2 Nm vs. 243.8 ± 35.3 Nm, 5.6%, p=0.06) and CWI (245.1 ± 76.8 Nm vs. 229.5 ± 72.7 Nm, 5.1%, p=0.15). There were no significant differences between groups in muscle soreness, CK, IL-6 or sleep. Femoral artery blood flow significantly decreased in CWI (195.0 ± 59.6 ml/min vs. 158.6 ± 80.3 ml/min, p=0.02), but did not differ in the other groups. WBC treatments within an hour may be preferable for muscle strength recovery compared to delayed treatments; however WBC appears to be no more effective than CWI. Neither cold intervention had an impact on inflammation or sleep.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
EventBASES Annual Conference - Nottingham
Duration: 17 Nov 2016 → …


ConferenceBASES Annual Conference
Period17/11/16 → …


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