Cold water immersion following Ironman triathlon
Cold water immersion (CWI), also known as ice bathing, is a common cool-down practice for athletes post activity. There is evidence that suggests physical benefits for the use of CWI post sub-2-hour activities.
This study sought to find out the effects of CWI on triathletes who had completed a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycling, and a 40.2 km run. The cohort in the study had an average finish time of 11.5 hours.
33 triathletes were included and randomly split into an intervention and non-intervention groups.
Epidemiological data were extracted, as well as baseline questionnaires including ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), perceived thirst, perceived thermal sensations, and a 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS) for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A blood test was also performed to assess for CK (creatine kinase), testosterone, CRP (c-reactive protein), IL-6 (interleukin 6), cortisol and myoglobin. These markers are typically observed for muscle damage and inflammation.
Upon completion of the race, participants were taken to the medical tent, and those in the intervention group were taken for a 10 minute CWI.
The baseline measures were re-assessed at 16 and 40 hours post completion of the event.
It was found that a single 10-minute CWI did not provide a physiological benefit during recovery for athletes within 40 hours post completion of an Ironman triathlon event.
> From: Stearns et al., J Sci Med Sport 21 (2018) 846-851. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.