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    The effect of cold water immersion on recreationally active young adults and the recovery of elite rugby players after intense eccentric exercise

    Alshoweir, Noorah (2016) The effect of cold water immersion on recreationally active young adults and the recovery of elite rugby players after intense eccentric exercise. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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    Background Exercising at different levels of intensity is associated with an acute inflammatory response as a result of muscle damage, which consequently leads to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Cold-water immersion (CWI) has shown the potential to reverse exercise related muscle inflammation and enhance post-exercise recovery following sport activities. Several studies have investigated the effect of CWI on muscle recovery, however, their results are controversial. The purpose of the current study was to examine the physiological response of CWI on healthy participants and explore the physiological and psychological effect of CWI on athletes compared with controls. Methods Phase one observed the physiological response of 9 healthy active volunteers immersed in 12-13° for 15 minutes. Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP) and O2 consumption were measured and monitored. Inflammatory biomarkers and muscle strength were observed prior to immersion, 30 minute and 24 hour following CWI. Phase two used a randomized crossover trial to study the effectiveness of CWI [15 minutes of CWI at 12-13°C] compared to passive recovery [15 minutes sitting] post delayed onset muscle soreness in 8 elite male rugby players. Inflammatory biomarker, muscle strength, were measured prior to the intervention and 30 minutes, 24 and 48 hour post intervention. Muscle soreness [VAS and pain pressure threshold] was measured 20 minutes, 24 and 48 hours post intervention. Phase three explored the psychological effect of CWI using a focus group and self-administered questionnaire. Result In Phase one, CWI produced no significant changes in cardiovascular function, oxygen consumption, muscle strength and hormone concentration levels. In Phase two, CWI reduced immediate quadriceps muscle soreness by (5 unit) compare to passive group by (15 unit) (P=0.006). No effect on strength or inflammatory cytokines compared to passive recovery. In Phase three, athletes reported a perception of improved performance and reduction in pain when using CWI. Conclusion CWI has positive effects for the treatment of DOMS. Physiologically it reduces immediate muscle tenderness, but does not affect muscle strength. Psychologically athletes perceive an improvement in performance and reduction in pain.

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