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The aim of this investigation was to elucidate the reductions in muscle, skin and core temperature following exposure to -110°C whole body cryotherapy (WBC), and compare these to 8°C cold water immersion (CWI). Twenty active male subjects were randomly assigned to a 4-min exposure of WBC or CWI. A minimum of 7 days later subjects were exposed to the other treatment. Muscle temperature in the right vastus lateralis (n=10); thigh skin (average, maximum and minimum) and rectal temperature (n=10) were recorded before and 60 min after treatment. The greatest reduction (P<0.05) in muscle (mean ± SD; 1 cm: WBC, 1.6 ± 1.2°C; CWI, 2.0 ± 1.0°C; 2 cm: WBC, 1.2 ± 0.7°C; CWI, 1.7 ± 0.9°C; 3 cm: WBC, 1.6 ± 0.6°C; CWI, 1.7 ± 0.5°C) and rectal temperature (WBC, 0.3 ± 0.2°C; CWI, 0.4 ± 0.2°C) were observed 60 min after treatment. The largest reductions in average (WBC, 12.1 ± 1.0°C; CWI, 8.4 ± 0.7°C), minimum (WBC, 13.2 ± 1.4°C; CWI, 8.7 ± 0.7°C) and maximum (WBC, 8.8 ± 2.0°C; CWI, 7.2 ± 1.9°C) skin temperature occurred immediately after both CWI and WBC (P<0.05). Skin temperature was significantly lower (P<0.05) immediately after WBC compared to CWI. The present study demonstrates that a single WBC exposure decreases muscle and core temperature to a similar level of those experienced after CWI. Although both treatments significantly reduced skin temperature, WBC elicited a greater decrease compared to CWI. These data may provide information to clinicians and researchers attempting to optimise WBC and CWI protocols in a clinical or sporting setting.


Joseph Thomas Costello, Kevin Culligan, James Selfe, Alan Edward Donnelly. Muscle, skin and core temperature after -110°c cold air and 8°c water treatment. PloS one. 2012;7(11):e48190

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PMID: 23139763

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