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J Athl Train. 1998 Jul-Sep; 33(3): 222–228.
PMCID: PMC1320427

Effect of Whirlpool Therapy on the Signs and Symptoms of Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

Lori A. Kuligowski, MS, ATC,* Scott M. Lephart, PhD, ATC, Frank P. Giannantonio, MS, ATC, CSCS, and Rob O. Blanc, MS, ATC

Abstract

Objective:

To determine the efficacy of warm whirlpool, cold whirlpool, and contrast therapy in the treatment of delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Design and Setting:

Subjects performed eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors and received 4 treatments: immediately postexercise and 24, 48, and 72 hours postexercise. Treatments consisted of 24-minute treatments with warm whirlpool, cold whirlpool, contrast therapy, or no treatment.

Subjects:

Fifty-six sex-matched volunteers from the University of Pittsburgh.

Measurements:

Measurements were taken at 5 assessment times: pre-exercise (0 hours); prior to treatment at 24, 48, and 72 hours postexercise; and at 96 hours postexercise. Dependent variables were degrees of resting elbow flexion, active elbow flexion, and extension; perceived soreness values on a Graphic Pain Rating Scale; and maximal voluntary isometric contraction. A repeated-measures analysis of variance (group by time) and Tukey post hoc analysis were used to determine which treatment groups differed significantly in returning subjects to pre-exercise values.

Results:

Cold whirlpool and contrast therapy were found to return subjects to baseline values of resting elbow flexion and perceived soreness significantly more than warm whirlpool or no treatment (P < .01). Additionally, warm whirlpool was found to be more effective than no treatment in the return of resting elbow flexion (P < .01).

Conclusions:

These results suggest that cold whirlpool and contrast therapy are more effective than warm whirlpool or no treatment in alleviating delayed-onset muscle soreness in the elbow flexors.

Full text

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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