The efficacy of ice massage in the treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage

Howatson, G., Gaze, D and Van Someren, K.A. (2005) The efficacy of ice massage in the treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports, 15(6), pp. 416-422. ISSN (print) 0905-7188


The purpose of this investigation was to, firstly, examine the effects of repeated applications of ice massage on the indirect markers associated with muscle damage using a within-subjects cross-over design and secondly, to examine how ice massage affects muscle function in both static and dynamic contractions following unaccustomed eccentric exercise. Twelve males performed damaging exercise on two separate occasions. The protocol consisted of three sets of 10 maximal eccentric repetitions of the elbow flexors using isokinetic dynamometry. Subjects were randomly assigned to an ice massage group or placebo group and received treatments immediately post-exercise, 24 and 48 h post-exercise. Muscle function (maximal isometric, slow and fast isokinetic contractions), creatine kinase, myoglobin, muscle soreness, limb girth and range of motion were measured pre, immediately post, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h post-exercise. Significant time effects were observed for all dependent variables (P<0.05). There were no significant differences between treatments. Ice massage is ineffective in reducing the indirect markers associated with exercise-induced muscle damage and enhancing recovery of muscle function in male exercisers unaccustomed to eccentric biased exercise.

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