Exercise Science Majors Study Cold Water Immersion Effects

April 24, 2015

By Emily Messino

Mount Union Exercise science majors Rachel Rector and Nicholas Hendershot gave a SCHOLAR Day presentation on “The Effects of Cold Water Immersion on Recovery from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.” Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common phenomenon that usually occurs in the muscles after an intense workout. Cold water immersion (CWI) is one of the most common ways to recover from DOMS.  Research on this topic is extensive, but the results vary. Rector and Hendershot conducted their study to help draw a more definitive conclusion as to whether or not CWI is an effective method of recovery.

For the study, nine collegiate non-athletes including males and females were used. The subjects were split into two groups. One group used CWI as recovery and the other group used a passive recovery. Each subject had to do a workout consisting of 100 drop jumps that were performed in sets of 20 with a minute and half rest between each set and the recovery intervention for each group was conducted post-workout. Measurements that included perception of soreness on a Likert scale, thigh girth, power output using a KMS system and creatine kinase (CK) levels in the blood were taken before the workout and after the intervention.

The results showed that CWI didn’t have an effect on recovery. Subjects using CWI for recovery didn’t have less perceived soreness compared to the passive recovery group.  While more research needs to be done, the presenters suggested CWI might more of a mental effect on athletes than a physical effect. 

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