Effect of intermittent cooling on baseball pitching and catching
Cryotherapy has been shown to be an effective method for reducing edema and inflammation, decreasing pain in acute injury, and is being studied as an aid in recovery. The traditional recovery treatment between innings for pitchers and catchers is to rest in the dugout. In this study, pitchers (n = 8) threw two simulated games separated by 5-7 days for recovery. Participants were given 4 min of intermittent arm and shoulder cooling treatment (AC) or no cooling (NC) in between each of 5-simulated innings. Pitchers that received NC had a significant decrease in velocity over the 5 innings (4%); by contrast, pitchers that received AC maintained pitching velocity (p = 0.04) (all-innings mean velocity 31.2 ± 2.1 ms−1 versus 30.6 ± 2.2 ms−1). Average pitch speed in the 4th inning and 5th inning was significantly faster for AC (31.3 ± 2 ms−1 and 31.3 ± 2 ms−1) compared to NC (30 ± 2 ms−1 and 30.4 ± 2 ms−1, p= 0.04), respectively. Additionally, AC resulted in significantly lower perceived exertion (RPE) (p = 0.01) and improved perceived recovery (PRS) (p = 0.01) compared to NC in a temperate environment. In catchers (n = 6), torso cooling (TC) resulted in a significantly lower RPE (p = 0.01) and improved PRS (p = 0.01) compared to NC. Significantly lower mean recovery HR was seen during the TC treatment compared to NC in the 5th (84 ± 8 vs. 90 ± 9 bpm, p = 0.04), 7th (84 ± 3 vs. 92 ±7 bpm, p = 0.02), and 9th (85 ± 7 vs. 93 ± 5 bpm, p = 0.01) innings. Increase in rectal temperature was smaller in TC compared to NC (0.58 ± 0.20 ºC vs. 0.98 ± 0.20 ºC, p = 0.01). Working HR was significantly lower at the end of the TC when compared to NC (108 ± 16 vs. 120 ± 19 bpm, p = 0.02). Cryotherapy improved recovery during baseball pitching and catching, attenuated a decrease in pitching velocity as well as attenuated core temperature increases in catchers.