Muscle News Daily May 21 2014, 0 Comments

Does cooling before intense exercise affect performance? 

Here's somethign I've been following for awhile. We all know that the use of ice is indicated for injury recovery and inflammation control. However, we're seeing more and more people use ice before performing intense exercises. The question is, does it really work? 

A new study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine decided to take a look at both ice packs and water immersion and its effect on muscle performance and activation. Teh study found that ice pack increases isometric torgue, but both ice packs and cold water immersion decreased concentric muscular performance. The study involved the calf muscles. The authors were quick to point out that other body parts should also be studied to see if they get similar results.

When I saw this article come out, I went back to a few other notable reviews on this subject. A study in the Journal of Athletic Training posed the question 'should athletes return to activity after cryotherapy?'. The study found a lot of conflicting evidence. Some studies noticed an increase in force output after cryotherapy. Other studies found strength to be reduced immediately after cryotherapy. The interesting point is that most studies looked at cryotherapy for at least 20 minutes. However, for most cryotherapy applications for immediate performance will generally be a lot less than this time frame.

The authors concluded that short duration applications or progressive warm ups should be implemented to prevent the reduction in functional performance.

Trainers will continue to experiment with the use of ice prior to workouts. I know some bodybuilders using very short bouts of ice packs (about 30 seconds to a minute) between each set of exercises. They swear it increases the ability to lift more. However, I anticipate it has more to do with the reduction in pain sensations from the cold. Should be interesting where this field goes, especially when you add whole body cryotherapy to the mix.

What sort of lower extremity weakness are we seeing after anterior cruciate ligament injury and reconstruction?

After an ACL injury, we know that there is a weakness of the quadriceps and hamstrings. However, what are the effects on the hip, ankle AND knee? A study in the Journal of Athletic Training looked at 15 individuals with ACL Injury, and assessed them preoperatively and postoperatively after 6 months.

The ACL Injured group had greater hip- extensor, ankle plantar flexor and abductor weakness preoperatively than postoperatively. The weakness appeared to be countered during postoperative rehabilitation.

The results confirm the need to not only focus on the knee, but also provide better rehabilitation strategies for the ankle and hip areas as well.