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Contrast therapy—a systematic review

PainSci » bibliography » Hing et al 2008
Tags: ice heat, rehab, injury, pain problems, self-treatment, treatment

Three articles on PainSci cite Hing 2008: 1. Contrast Hydrotherapy2. The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome3. Complete Guide to Plantar Fasciitis

PainSci notes on Hing 2008:

This review of the science of contrast hydrotherapy concludes that there is no science of contrast hydrotherapy: as of 2008, no research had ever been done that provides useful evidence that it works or does not work. Contrasting remains a popular and plausible but untested form of treatment.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Contrast therapy is a strategy that is widely utilised in a number of sporting codes to aid recovery. This wide use might suggest that contrast therapy is an effective recovery modality however support for this assumption appears to be mainly anecdotal. The purpose of this paper is to review the efficacy of contrast therapy. To achieve this objective, a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that have specifically evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of contrast therapy was performed. A search to identify appropriate literature was conducted across a number of electronic databases. The titles and abstracts of the papers identified were reviewed to select papers specifically relating to contrast therapy. Twelve RCTs met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The PEDro Scale, a systematic tool used to critique RCTs, was employed to critique the methodological quality of these studies. This review highlights both the lack in quantity and quality of research regarding the efficacy of contrast therapy for sports recovery. There appears to be insufficient evidence that contrast therapy aids in recovery and the limited methodological quality of the reviewed studies makes it difficult to draw clear conclusions about this form of therapy. Future research needs to re-examine the use of contrast therapy and in particular whole body immersion recovery strategies within the appropriate sports setting. This research will need to be of sufficient quality to enable appropriate conclusions to be made with regards to its use as a recovery strategy.

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