Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on recovery after hamstring damaging exercise: a crossover study

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Oct;23(5):e270-8. doi: 10.1111/sms.12074. Epub 2013 Apr 25.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) on biochemical, pain, and performance parameters during the 5-day recovery period after damaging exercise for hamstrings. Participants completed a bout of damaging exercise for the hamstring muscles on two separate occasions (control and experimental condition) separated by 10 weeks. During the control condition, subjects received no treatment after the damaging exercise. The experimental condition consisted of WBC everyday during the recovery period. WBC included single 3-min daily exposures to low temperatures (-140 to -19 °C) in the cryo-cabin. During the recovery period, subjects were tested for biochemical markers, perceived pain sensation, and physical performance (squat jump, counter movement jump, maximal isometric torque production, and maximally explosive isometric torque production). Majority of the observed variables showed statistically significant time effects (P < 0.05) in control group, which indicates the presence of muscle damage. Significant interaction between the control and WBC condition was evident for the rate of torque development (P < 0.05). Pain measures substantially differed between the WBC and the control condition after the exercise. Results of this study are not completely supportive of the use of WBC for recovery enhancement after strenuous training.

Keywords: DOMS; EIMD; performance; regeneration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy*
  • Tendons
  • Thigh / physiology
  • Thigh / physiopathology


  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase