Effects of postexercise ice-water and room-temperature water immersion on the sensory organization of balance control and lower limb proprioception in amateur rugby players: A randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Background:

This single-blinded, three-armed randomized controlled trial aimed to compare the effects of postexercise ice-water immersion (IWI), room-temperature water immersion (RWI), and no water immersion on the balance performance and knee joint proprioception of amateur rugby players.

Methods:

Fifty-three eligible amateur rugby players (mean age ± standard deviation: 21.6 ± 2.9 years) were randomly assigned to the IWI group (5.3 °C), RWI group (25.0 °C), or the no immersion control group. The participants in each group underwent the same fatigue protocol followed by their allocated recovery intervention, which lasted for 1 minute. Measurements were taken before and after the fatigue-recovery intervention. The primary outcomes were the sensory organization test (SOT) composite equilibrium score (ES) and the condition-specific ES, which were measured using a computerized dynamic posturography machine. The secondary outcome was the knee joint repositioning error. Two-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to test the effect of water immersion on each outcome variable.

Results:

There were no significant within- and between-group differences in the SOT composite ESs or the condition-specific ESs. However, there was a group-by-time interaction effect on the knee joint repositioning error. It seems that participants in the RWI group had lower errors over time, but those in the IWI and control groups had increased errors over time. The RWI group had significantly lower error score than the IWI group at postintervention.

Conclusion:

One minute of postexercise IWI or RWI did not impair rugby players’ sensory organization of balance control. RWI had a less detrimental effect on knee joint proprioception to IWI at postintervention.

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