Cold Water Immersion Speeds Recovery

Cold Water Immersion Speeds Recovery
The magic fingers (completing a heavy bench press rep with the help of two fingers from a spotter) and the rejuvenating effect of a cold bath after a monster workout are two wonders of sports training. While we might never understand the mechanism behind the magic fingers, researchers from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra affirmed the benefits of cold-water immersion. They measured the effects of four recovery strategies on sprint capacity and time trial performance during five consecutive days of endurance cycling: immersion in a 59° water bath for 14 minutes; immersion in a 100.4° water bath for 14 minutes; alternating between the hot water and cold water baths for 14 minutes (contrast bath); or rest for 14 minutes (control). The subjects repeated the trials four times with nine days rest between exercise stages so that they were exposed to each restorative technique. Cold-water immersion improved sprint performance by up to 2.2 percent and time trial performance by up to 1 percent, while contrast baths improved sprint performance by up to 1.4 percent and time trial performance by up to 1.7 percent. Performance fell by 3.7 percent following hot water immersion and 3.4 percent with rest only. The study showed that cold-water immersion or contrast baths had a small effect on recovery, while hot baths decreased recovery. (International Journal Sports Medicine, 29: 539-544)

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