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Monday, October 24, 2011

Post-training muscle cooling may attenuate training effects

Today, I would like to comment more on a point I made few weeks ago in a post on cryotherapy after training (http://georgenassis.blogspot.com/2011/07/some-thoughts-on-use-of-water-immersion.html). Please let me remind you that cryotherapy is used by many athletes as a means to minimize muscle damage and muscle soreness and thus speed up recovery after hard training and game. In my latest post I set the hypothesis that cryotherapy-induced reduction in muscle damage and inflammation might suppress training adaptations.


One of the blog reader emailed  me the paper by Yamane et al (1996) published in European Journal of Applied Physiology. In their study, researchers had their subjects cool one leg and arm with water immersion after training whereas the other limb was the control (no cooling). One group performed arm strength training and the other endurance cycling training. Training was performed 3-4 times per week for 4-6 weeks.




Did cryotherapy improve performance more that the control?
No. In this study, control and cooled legs improved endurance performance time at similar degree. However, maximal oxygen uptake was improved only in the control leg. In addition, maximal arm strength was improved at a significantly greater magnitude in the control than in the cooled arms group.

Take-home message
I am not saying that cryotherapy is not good for recovery. There are a lot of data in the literature suggesting that cryotherapy might speed up, at least, the perception of effort by athletes. If you feel good you perform well in the next session. If you perform well you gain more adaptations. However, from this study it appears that the effect of cryotherapy on LONG-TERM training-induced adaptations requires further investigation.



Reference
Yamane et al. (2006). Post-exercise leg and forearm flexor muscle cooling in humans attenuates endurance and resistance training effects on muscle performance and on circulatory adaptations. Eur J Appl Physiol 96: 572-580.

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