JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Short term effects of various water immersions on recovery from exhaustive intermittent exercise

Herve Pournot, Francois Bieuzen, Rob Duffield, Pierre-Marie Lepretre, Christophe Cozzolino, Christophe Hausswirth
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2011, 111 (7): 1287-95
21132438
In order to investigate the effectiveness of different techniques of water immersion recovery on maximal strength, power and the post-exercise inflammatory response in elite athletes, 41 highly trained (Football, Rugby, Volleyball) male subjects (age = 21.5 ± 4.6 years, mass = 73.1 ± 9.7 kg and height = 176.7 ± 9.7 cm) performed 20 min of exhaustive, intermittent exercise followed by a 15 min recovery intervention. The recovery intervention consisted of different water immersion techniques, including: temperate water immersion (36°C; TWI), cold water immersion (10°C; CWI), contrast water temperature (10-42°C; CWT) and a passive recovery (PAS). Performances during a maximal 30-s rowing test (P(30 s)), a maximal vertical counter-movement jump (CMJ) and a maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC) of the knee extensor muscles were measured at rest (Pre-exercise), immediately after the exercise (Post-exercise), 1 h after (Post 1 h) and 24 h later (Post 24 h). Leukocyte profile and venous blood markers of muscle damage (creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)) were also measured Pre-exercise, Post 1 h and Post 24 h. A significant time effect was observed to indicate a reduction in performance (Pre-exercise vs. Post-exercise) following the exercise bout in all conditions (P < 0.05). Indeed, at 1 h post exercise, a significant improvement in MVC and P(30 s) was respectively observed in the CWI and CWT groups compared to pre-exercise. Further, for the CWI group, this result was associated with a comparative blunting of the rise in total number of leucocytes at 1 h post and of plasma concentration of CK at 24 h post. The results indicate that the practice of cold water immersion and contrast water therapy are more effective immersion modalities to promote a faster acute recovery of maximal anaerobic performances (MVC and 30″ all-out respectively) after an intermittent exhaustive exercise. These results may be explained by the suppression of plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and damage, suggesting reduced passive leakage from disrupted skeletal muscle, which may result in the increase in force production during ensuing bouts of exercise.

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