New emphasis’ have been put on recovery modalities such as cold water therapy. How would todays people go surviving in cold wilderness like the vikings did? With many in consensus that cold water therapy boosts testosterone production, is a lack of coldness further castrating an already feminised male population?
Question marks arise next to the quality of evidence, given randomised controlled studies are made challenging by the fact individuals cannot be blind to cold water intervention and placebo effect is a well accepted phenomenon within medicine.
Despite the fact that cold water immersion (CWI) seems to be an effective (and therefore appropriate) strategy to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), it does not seem effective in restoring strength and might have some potential to restore power in adult athletes (Murray A. 2015). Appropriateness should refer to the aim and the expected outcome of an intervention.
Within an adolescent population it has been shown that CWI may normalise or even enhance parasympathetic heart rate modulation and restore vagal tone following intense exercise similar to the mechanism in an adult population (Buchheit M. 2008).
Popular methods include the alternating between hot and cold water temperatures. The alternate vasodilation and vasoconstriction of the peripheral blood vessels or “pumping action” has been proposed to increase lactate clearance, decrease oedema and increase blood flow. It is also hypothesised that CWT may alter the perfusion of muscle by inducing intracellular-intravascular fluid shift, which might result in an attenuated immune response and reduced the myocellular damage (Francois B. 2013).
Exercise and CWI alter the hormonal milieu of the body and in turn modulate blood flow, fluid balance, heart rate and breathing frequency among other physiological parameters. Marked increases in the circulating levels of dopamine and noradrenaline with no concomitant change in cortisol have been found after immersion for 1 h in 14’C water (Sramek P. 2000).
Cold water therapy is evidently beneficial but an optimal method is yet to be determined however appear to be superior to passive ones.