Effect of whirlpool therapy on the signs and symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness

Lori A. Kuligowski, Scott M. Lephart, Frank P. Giannantonio, Rob O. Blanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the efficacy of warm whirlpool, cold whirlpool, and contrast therapy in the treatment of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Design and Setting: Subjects performed eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors and received 4 treatments: immediately postexercise and 24, 48, and 72 hours postexercise. Treatments consisted of 24-minute treatments with warm whirlpool, cold whirlpool, contrast therapy, or no treatment. Subjects: Fifty-six sex-matched volunteers from the University of Pittsburgh. Measurements: Measurements were taken at 5 assessment times: pre-exercise (0 hours); prior to treatment at 24, 48, and 72 hours postexercise; and at 96 hours postexercise. Dependent variables were degrees of resting elbow flexion, active elbow flexion, and extension; perceived soreness values on a Graphic Pain Rating Scale; and maximal voluntary isometric contraction. A repeated-measures analysis of variance (group by time) and Tukey post hoc analysis were used to determine which treatment groups differed significantly in returning subjects to pre-exercise values. Results: Cold whirlpool and contrast therapy were found to return subjects to baseline values of resting elbow flexion and perceived soreness significantly more than warm whirlpool or no treatment (P < .01). Additionally, warm whirlpool was found to be more effective than no treatment in the return of resting elbow flexion (P < .01). Conclusions: These results suggest that cold whirlpool and contrast therapy are more effective than warm whirlpool or no treatment in alleviating delayed-onset muscle soreness in the elbow flexors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-228
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998


  • Contrast therapy
  • Eccentric exercise
  • Hydrotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of whirlpool therapy on the signs and symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this