Postural sway following cryotherapy in healthy adults

Gait Posture. 2014;40(1):262-5. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.02.010. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


In light of the wide use of cryotherapy and its potential negative effects on postural stability, little is known about how postural sway is affected, particularly when the whole lower limb is immersed. The purpose of this study was to analyze the influence of cryotherapy on postural sway in healthy males. Twenty-six subjects were randomly assigned into two intervention groups: control (tepid water at ∼26°C) or ice (cold water at ∼11°C). Postural sway was measured through the center of pressure (COP) position while they stood on a force plate during bipedal (70 s) and unipedal (40 s) conditions before and after the subjects were immersed in a water tub up to the umbilical level for 20 min. COP standard deviation (SD) and COP velocity were analyzed in the anterior-posterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) directions. Statistical analysis showed that in the bipedal condition cryotherapy increased the COP SD and COP velocity in the ML direction. During the unipedal condition, a higher COP velocity in the AP and ML directions was also reported. Our findings indicate that cryotherapy by immersing the whole lower limb should be used with caution before engaging in challenging postural control activities.

Keywords: Balance; Center of pressure; Cryotherapy; Postural sway; Pre-cooling.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cryotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immersion / adverse effects
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Postural Balance*
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology*
  • Young Adult