French, D. N., Thompson, K. G., Barnes, C. A., Garland, S. W., Portas, M. D., & Hood, P. E. (2007). Influence of contrast-bathing and compression therapy on recovery following acute exercise-induced muscle damage. ACSM Annual Meeting New Orleans, Presentation Number 2571.

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"Training and competition induce a transient impairment of athletic performance. Contrast bathing and compression garments are widely used to promote recovery, yet empirical evidence to support their use is limited".

This study evaluated contrast-bathing and compression-garment therapies for their effectiveness as recovery/regeneration strategies following acute exercise-induced muscle damage. Young men (N = 26) were assessed on performance indices, including a 30-m sprint, vertical jump, and 5 RM squat, as well as perception, and blood to determine creatine kinase and myoglobin. Ss completed a resistance exercise protocol designed to induce acute micro-trauma to muscle tissue. The protocol included 6 x 10 parallel squats using 100% bodyweight with a 5-second predicted 1 RM eccentric squat superimposed onto each set. Following the resistance protocol, Ss were assigned to three recovery-intervention groups, contrast bathing, compression garments, and a no-treatment control. Forty-eight hours after the resistance exercise protocol, Ss were reassessed on each performance test. Creatine kinase and myoglobin were measured 24 and 48 hours after the resistance exercise.

In all groups, myoglobin was significantly elevated one-hour after the exercise and creatine kinase was elevated at 24 hours after the exercise. There were no significant differences between the groups. At 48 hours into recovery, significant differences from baseline were found in all groups for vertical jump and the pain analogue scale. Mid-thigh girth and 5 RM were significantly elevated in the contrast-bathing condition, and the 30-m sprint was improved in the compression-garment condition. There were no between-group differences for any of the performance indices.

Implication. Contrast-bathing and compression-garment therapies were no better than no treatment on performance indices evaluated during regeneration therapy.

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