Research Review Shorts: Cold vs Hot Water Immersion Post-Workout
It’s relatively established that cold water immersion may blunt muscle growth when used post-workout. This article sought to see if hot water immersion would have a positive effect on recovery compared to cold water immersion.
The purpose of the reviewed study was to compare rates of recovery from resistance training after post-training cold water immersion, hot water immersion, or passive rest.
28 “healthy active” men (28 ± 5 years old;) completed the study. Subjects completed a leg extension 8RM test during the first visit and each experimental condition (hot water immersion, cold water immersion, passive rest) in three subsequent sessions separated by exactly one week.
Tensiomyography (electrical stimulus sent to vastus medialis) measures were assessed before training, immediately after training, immediately after the 15-minute recovery intervention, and 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes post-recovery.
- Hot water immersion led to significantly faster recovery (of the tensiomyography parameters) at various time points compared to cold water immersion or the passive rest condition.
- Recover parameters, namely contraction velocity, declined significantly more with cold water immersion than with passive rest (control group).
This study suggests that heating the muscle following resistance training is more effective than cooling the muscle to promote recovery. The study further suggests that cooling the muscle delays recovery and attnuates hypertrophy and strength adaptations.
Hot water immersion may have some efficacy for recovery within the first 60 minutes following training. Ultimately, there is still insufficient evidence to fully support the use of consistent hot water baths for recovery.