The use of thermal imaging to assess the effectiveness of ice massage and cold-water immersion as methods for supporting post-exercise recovery

Jakub Grzegorz Adamczyk*, Ilona Krasowska, Dariusz Boguszewski, Peter Reaburn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Cold water immersion (CWI) and ice massage (IM) are commonly used treatments to prevent the delay onset of muscle soreness (DOMS); however, little is known on their relative benefits and effectiveness to lower tissue temperature. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of IM and CMI on tissue temperature and potential benefit to preventing DOMS. The research encompassed 36 subjects divided into three groups of twelve depending on the form of recovery: ice massage (IM), cold-water immersion (CWI), or passive recovery (PAS). All the participants were asked to jump as high as possible from a full squat for one minute. Thermal imaging was conducted at rest, immediately following the exercise, immediately after the trial, following the recovery treatment, and after 30 min of rest. Their pain levels were assessed using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). After applying the selected method for supporting recovery, the LA level decreased by 4.25 mmol/L in the IM group, and by 4.96 mmol/L in the CWI group (IM vs. CWI p>0.05). The 2.75 mmol/L decrease in lactate concentration in the PAS group was significantly lower than in the other groups (IM vs. PAS p<0.05/ CWI vs. PAS p<0.01). In both groups, Tsk after 30 min was significantly lower (δTsk~0.5 °C) than at rest (p<0.05). In turn, Tsk in the PAS group returned to the resting values (p>0.05). Seventy-two hours after the exercise, a clear decrease in discomfort was observed in the IM and CWI groups compared to the PAS group. The two applied treatments have proven to be effective both in utilizing lactate and preventing DOMS. Depending on training requirements, we recommend the use of IM when athletes experience localized muscle fatigue. One the other hand, CWI is recommended in situations of global or generalized muscle injury or fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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