The effect of post-exercise cryotherapy on recovery characteristics: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Hohenauer, Erich and Taeymans, Jan and Baeyens, Jean Pierre and Clarys, Peter and Clijsen, Ron (2015) The effect of post-exercise cryotherapy on recovery characteristics: a systematic review and meta-analysis. In: 20th anual congress of the european college of sport sciences, 24-27 June 2015, Malmoe Sweden. (Submitted)

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Abstract The effectiveness of cryotherapy on post-exercise recovery is predominantly described as the ability to decrease the inflammational processes through reducing the local cell metabolism by inducing vasoconstriction. The aim of this review and meta-analysis was, to critical determine the possible effects of different cooling applications compared to non-cooling, passive post-exercise strategies on recovery characteristics after various, exhaustive exercise protocols up to 96 hours. A systematic literature search was conducted in the databases MEDLINE (PubMed), SportDiscus and PEDro between October 2013 and August 2014. A total of n = 36 articles were processed in this study. To establish the research question, the PICO-model, according to the PRISMA guidelines was used. The Cochrane’s risk of bias tool was used for the quality assessment. The overall risk of bias, especially for performance bias and detection bias, was high. Meta-analyses of subjective characteristics like delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and objective characteristics like blood plasma markers and blood plasma cytokines during a 96 hours (hrs) recovery period were performed. Pooled data from 27 articles showed, that cooling and especially cold water immersion affected the symptoms of DOMS (up to 96 hrs) and RPE (up to 24 hrs) significantly compared to the control conditions. There was no evidence, that cooling affected objective recovery variables significantly. Theses findings may be of interest to all coaches, physiotherapists or physicians who work with athletes. Keywords: Exercise, Recovery, Cryotherapy, Cold, Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis

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