Contrast Water Therapy
Contrast Water Therapy
Contrast Water Therapy (CWT) is theorised to reduce oedema (swelling) through the means of a ‘‘pumping action’’ that is produced via vasoconstriction and vasodilation; the narrowing and widening of the arteries and veins. This pumping mechanism is suggested to have physiological effects such as reduced muscle spasms, removal of metabolites, increased blood flow, increased performance of muscle function, reduced inflammation and reduced delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS).
The common procedure used for CWT was using cold water for one minute followed by hot water ranged between one to three minutes immediately after. The CWT treatment duration ranged from six to 24 minutes. The temperature of cold water ranged from 8°C to 15°C whereas the temperature of the hot water ranged between 35.5°C and 45°C.
At 48 and 72 h follow ups, pooled results demonstrated significantly lower level of creatine kinase in the CWT group as compared to no treatment.
At all follow-up times, pooled results demonstrated significantly lower levels of muscle soreness in the CWT group. The positive effects were deemed better when the temperature of hot water was less than 40°C.
Pooled results indicated significantly lower changes from baseline in the CWT group at all follow-up time points.
Pooled results revealed a significantly lower muscle power loss with CWT at the points 24, 48 and 72 hrs.
CWT has significant evidence to suggest practical use for benefits regarding muscle recovery and performance. However an optimal treatment protocol needs to be identified and as similar benefits are noted with other recovery interventions such as active recovery, stretching, cold water submersion and compression.
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1. Bieuzen, F., Bleakley, C. M., & Costello, J. T. (2013). Contrast water therapy and exercise induced muscle damage: a systematic review and meta-analysis.PloS one, 8(4), e62356.
2. Vaile, J. M., Gill, N. D., & Blazevich, A. J. (2007). The effect of contrast water therapy on symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 21(3), 697-702.
3. Versey, N. G., Halson, S. L., & Dawson, B. T. (2012). Effect of contrast water therapy duration on recovery of running performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 7(2), 130-40.