The purpose of this controlled trial was to investigate the effects of a single local cryotherapy session on the recovery characteristics over a period of 72 hours. Twenty-two young and healthy female (n=17; mean age: 21.9±1.1 years) and male (n=5;mean age: 25.4±2.8 years) adults participated in this study. Following an exhaustive jump protocol (3×30 countermovement jumps), half of the participants received either a single local cryotherapy application (+8°C) or a single local thermoneutral application (+32°C) of 20-minute duration using two thigh cuffs. Subjective measures of recovery (delayed-onset muscle soreness and ratings of perceived exertion) and objective measures of recovery (vertical jump performance and peak power output) were assessed immediately following the postexercise applications (0 hours) and at 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours after the jump protocol. Local cryotherapy failed to significantly affect any subjective recovery variable during the 72-hour recovery period (P>0.05). After 72 hours, the ratings of perceived exertion were significantly lower in the thermoneutral group compared to that in the cryotherapy group (P=0.002). No significant differences were observed between the cryotherapy and the thermoneutral groups with respect to any of the objective recovery variables.
In this experimental study, a 20-minute cryotherapy cuff application failed to demonstrate a positive effect on any objective measures of recovery. The effects of local thermoneutral application on subjective recovery characteristics were superior when compared to the effects of local cryotherapy application at 72 hours postapplication.