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Review
. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e62356.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062356. Print 2013.

Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Free PMC article
Review

Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

François Bieuzen et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effect of Contrast Water Therapy (CWT) on recovery following exercise induced muscle damage. Controlled trials were identified from computerized literature searching and citation tracking performed up to February 2013. Eighteen trials met the inclusion criteria; all had a high risk of bias. Pooled data from 13 studies showed that CWT resulted in significantly greater improvements in muscle soreness at the five follow-up time points (<6, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours) in comparison to passive recovery. Pooled data also showed that CWT significantly reduced muscle strength loss at each follow-up time (<6, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours) in comparison to passive recovery. Despite comparing CWT to a large number of other recovery interventions, including cold water immersion, warm water immersion, compression, active recovery and stretching, there was little evidence for a superior treatment intervention. The current evidence base shows that CWT is superior to using passive recovery or rest after exercise; the magnitudes of these effects may be most relevant to an elite sporting population. There seems to be little difference in recovery outcome between CWT and other popular recovery interventions.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Summary of search strategy and selection process based on included and excluded studies.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Risk of bias graph: review authors’ judgements about each risk of bias item presented as percentages across all included studies.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Risk of bias summary: review authors’ judgements about each risk of bias item for each included study.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Forest plot of comparison: Contrast vs. Passive, outcome: Muscle soreness: various scales Likert and VAS.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Forest plot of comparison: Contrast vs. Passive, outcome: Muscle damage (CK).
Figure 6
Figure 6. Forest plot of comparison: Contrast vs. Passive, outcome: Muscle Strength (Change from baseline).

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Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.
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