The Effects of Age and Body Fat Content on Post-Downhill Run Recovery Following Whole Body Cryotherapy

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This study explored the effects of age and body fat content on responses to whole body cryotherapy (WBC) following a downhill running bout. Forty-one male participants (mean ± SD age 42.0 ± 13.7 years, body mass 75.2 ± 10.8 kg) were allocated into WBC (n = 26) and control (CON, n = 15) groups. WBC participants were divided into old (OLD, ≥45 years, n = 10) and young (YNG, <40 years, n = 13), as well as high fat (HFAT, ≥20%, n = 10) and low fat (LFAT ≤ 15%, n = 8) groups. Participants completed a 30 min downhill run (15% gradient) at 60% VO2 max. The WBC group underwent cryotherapy (3 min, –120 °C) 1 h post-run and CON participants passively recovered in a controlled environment (20 °C). Maximal isometric leg muscle torque was assessed pre and 24 h post-run. Blood creatine kinase (CK) and muscle soreness were assessed pre, post, one hour and 24 h post-run. Muscle torque significantly decreased in both groups post-downhill run (WBC: 220.6 ± 61.4 Nm vs. 208.3 ± 67.6 Nm, p = 0.02; CON: 239.7 ± 51.1 Nm vs. 212.1 ± 46.3 Nm, p = 0.00). The mean decrease in WBC was significantly less than in CON (p = 0.04). Soreness and CK increased 24 h post for WBC and CON (p < 0.01) with no difference between groups. Muscle torque significantly de-creased in OLD participants (p = 0.04) but not in YNG (p = 0.55). There were no differences between HFAT and LFAT (all p values > 0.05). WBC may attenuate muscle damage and benefit muscle strength recovery following eccentrically biased exercises, particularly for young males.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2906
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date12 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2021


  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Cryotherapy
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Myalgia
  • Running


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