Topical Cooling (Icing) Delays Recovery From Eccentric Exercise–Induced Muscle Damage


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Abstract

Tseng, C-Y, Lee, J-P, Tsai, Y-S, Lee, S-D, Kao, C-L, Liu, T-C, Lai, C-S, Harris, MB, and Kuo, C-H. Topical Cooling (Icing) Delays Recovery From Eccentric Exercise–Induced Muscle Damage. J Strength Cond Res 27(5): 1354–1361, 2013—It is generally thought that topical cooling can interfere with blood perfusion and may have positive effects on recovery from a traumatic challenge. This study examined the influence of topical cooling on muscle damage markers and hemodynamic changes during recovery from eccentric exercise. Eleven male subjects (age 20.2 ± 0.3 years) performed 6 sets of elbow extension at 85% maximum voluntary load and randomly assigned to topical cooling or sham groups during recovery in a randomized crossover fashion. Cold packs were applied to exercised muscle for 15 minutes at 0, 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after exercise. The exercise significantly elevated circulating creatine kinase-MB isoform (CK-MB) and myoglobin levels. Unexpectedly, greater elevations in circulating CK-MB and myoglobin above the control level were noted in the cooling trial during 48–72 hours of the post-exercise recovery period. Subjective fatigue feeling was greater at 72 hours after topical cooling compared with controls. Removal of the cold pack also led to a protracted rebound in muscle hemoglobin concentration compared with controls. Measures of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-10, IL-1β, and muscle strength during recovery were not influenced by cooling. A peak shift in IL-12p70 was noted during recovery with topical cooling. These data suggest that topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention, seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise–induced muscle damage.

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