Kaminski, T. W., Fox, K. E., Swanik, C. B., Edwards, D. G., & Gutierrez, G. M. (2010). Monitoring lower leg blood flow during sequential contrast therapy treatments using a simulated injury model. Presentation 765 at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; June 2-5.

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This study used a simulated injury model (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - DOMS), to examine blood flow in the lower leg during warm, cold, contrast, and control (none) treatments. Ss (M = 15; F = 25) were randomly assigned to the treatment groups (10 per group). Session I was used to determine baseline blood flow, left calf dorsi-flexion range of motion and pain, blood levels of creatine kinase, and to induce DOMS (using a calf-raising exercise). Session II involved applying one of the four treatment conditions, during which lower leg blood flow was monitored using strain gauge plethysmography. The percent change in local blood flow (rate of change of limb segment circumference) during each 5-second sampling period served as the dependent variable. The percent change was measured every 15 seconds comparing baseline with each of the measurements in the three-minute "on-time" phase.

Confirming muscle damage, creatine kinase levels were higher post-DOMS, post-DOMS range of motion was significantly less than pre-DOMS range of motion, and universal pain assessment measures were worse at both 24 and 48 hours post-DOMS. Blood flow was higher overall in the contrast group when compared to the cold and control groups; while greater fluctuations in blood flow occurred during the time points between transitions from hot to cold and from cold to hot in the contrast group. As expected the warm group had a significantly higher percent change in blood flow when compared to both the cold and control groups.

Implication. DOMS induced individuals react to warm, cold, and contrast treatments much in the same way as uninjured persons. Fluctuations in blood flow occurred at the four transitional points in the contrast group and indicate alterations in blood flow occur during the sequential contrast treatment scheme. Such changes in flow are theorized to benefit healing, and because of the brevity of exposure to either the hot or cold, are most likely the result of localized vasodilation and vasoconstriction, instead of deep vascular changes.

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