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Journal of Sports Research

June 2015, Volume 2, 2, pp 37-51

Post-Exercise Cold Water Immersion on Sports Performance Recovery: A Review

Gary Chi Ching Chow


Shirley Siu Ming Fong


Joanne Wai Yee Chung


Duncan James Macfarlane

Gary Chi Ching Chow 1

Shirley Siu Ming Fong 2 Joanne Wai Yee Chung 3
Duncan James Macfarlane 2 

  1. Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Faculty of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China 1

  2. Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, China 2

  3. Department of Health and Physical Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China 3

Pages: 37-51

DOI: 10.18488/journal.90/2015.2.2/

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Post-exercise cold water immersion (CWI) has recently been developed and applied in professional sports. CWI has become widely accepted for use in sports and is endorsed by various organisations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). Specific considerations on the extensive use of CWI in the field of sports, the effects of performance recovery after CWI intervention are noteworthy to be examined. This article aimed to review and summarize reports studying effects of CWI on post-exercise recovery. A comprehensive examination of literature was conducted and the decided databases were reviewed. Positive effects of post-exercise CWI on athletes’ endurance performance and perceived recovery were found. The possible reasons relate to the reduction of core temperature and blood redistribution. However, CWI effects on power related performance did not receive a consensus understanding in this review. Cryotherapy is normally used for limiting muscle damages, but post-exercise CWI on alternating blood markers for the muscle damages did not show a clear finding in this review. Particularly, Jadad score analysis in this review shows low on average (average Jadad score = 1.80±1.17) of the quality of the studies. It is necessary to reconsider the application on the previous examination. Further investigation is recommended, specifically on power related recovery and neural transmission alternations using randomized controlled trial with masking design.
Contribution/ Originality
The paper contributes the first logical analysis on assessing the quality of the studies related to post exercise cold water immersion recovery by the Jadad score analysis, which is assessed by three criteria: A) description of randomization, B) blinding, and C) withdrawals with dropout rates. This study also tried to provide the unbiased and exact findings through systematic reviews. 




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