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The effects of cryotherapy on eccentric torque production and muscle endurance have been controversial. Our intent was to examine the effect of cryotherapy on isokinetic eccentric plantar flexion peak torque at 30°/sec and 120°/sec and on endurance at 120°/sec.
Subjects were tested on an isokinetic dynamometer for peak torque and endurance and were then randomly assigned to one of four groups: (a) peak torque measurements at 30°/sec and 120°/sec after a 30-minute 10°C ice bath immersion, (b) peak torque measurements at 30°/sec and 120°/sec without ice bath immersion (control), (c) endurance measurement at 120°/sec after a 30-minute 10°C ice bath immersion, and (d) endurance measurement at 120°/sec without ice bath immersion (control). Subjects completed each of the four experimental conditions with 7 to 14 days between conditions.
Eleven male and 11 female volunteers (mean age, 23.8 ± 3.5 years) were screened for normal ankle range of motion, past history of lower extremity injury, and contraindications to cryotherapy.
Dependent t tests were used to analyze practice session data in order to establish reliable baseline measurements. A 2 × 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures (p < .05) was used to analyze peak torque data. A one-way ANOVA (p < .05) was used to analyze endurance data in the form of total work.
Velocity significantly affected peak torque production, with eccentric peak torque values significantly higher at 120°/sec than at 30°/sec for both the control and the immersion conditions. Cryotherapy had no effect on eccentric peak torque at either 30°/sec or 120°/sec, but it increased eccentric total work (endurance) at 120°/sec.
Cryotherapy has long been known to have beneficial therapeutic effects. In our study, cryotherapy did not significantly affect eccentric peak torque, but it did increase muscle endurance. An athlete can reap the beneficial effects of cryotherapy, such as pain reduction, vasoconstriction, and edema control, without compromising eccentric force production or endurance.