Including arm exercise during a cold water immersion recovery better assists restoration of sprint cycling performance

D Crampton, M Egaña, B Donne, S A Warmington
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2014, 24 (4): e290-8
Sprint (high-intensity) exercise performance is reduced when immediately preceded by cold water immersion (CWI). We aimed to investigate whether this performance effect could be attenuated by combining an active recovery (arm exercise) with hip-level CWI, and whether this attenuation may be related to an effect on core temperature (Tcore ). Participants (n = 8) completed three Wingate tests before (Ex1) and after (Ex2) four different 30-min recovery interventions: CWI at 15 °C (CW15), arm exercise during CWI at 15 °C (CW15+AE), arm exercise during thermoneutral immersion at 34 °C (TW34+AE) and non-immersed arm exercise (AE). After AE and TW34+AE, performance during Ex2 was not different from Ex1; while after CW15+AE and CW15, performance was reduced by 4.9% and 7.6%, respectively. Arm exercise maintained Tcore during recovery in CW15+AE, while it declined to a larger extent upon commencement of Ex2 (-0.9 °C) when compared with CW15 (-0.6 °C). This suggests similar leg muscle cooling during recovery in CW15 and CW15+AE. Without any other significant effects (e.g., on blood lactate), these data suggest that the improvement in sprint performance following an active CWI recovery, over CWI alone, may be related to maintained Tcore and its effect on neurophysiological mechanisms that drive muscle activation, but not by reduced muscle cooling.

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