Accelerated muscle recovery in baseball pitchers using phase change material cooling

Susan Kwiecien, Malachy P. McHugh*, Glyn Howatson, Michael Mullaney, Neil Ioviero, Andrew Fink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to document recovery following a pitching performance and determine if prolonged post-game phase change material (PCM) cooling of the shoulder and forearm accelerates recovery. Methods: Strength, soreness and serum creatine kinase (CK) activity were assessed prior to, and on the two days following pitching performances in 16 college pitchers. Pitchers were randomized to receive either post-game PCM cooling packs on the shoulder and forearm, or no cooling (control). PCM packs were applied inside compression shirts and delivered cooling at a constant temperature of 15°C for 3 hours. Strength was assessed for shoulder internal rotation (IR), external rotation (ER), empty can test (EC) and grip. Results: Total pitch count was 60±16 for 23 PCM cooling games and 62±17 for 24 control games (P=.679). On the days following pitching IR strength (P=.006) and grip strength (P=.036) were higher in the PCM cooling group versus control. One day after pitching IR strength was 95±14% of baseline with PCM cooling versus 83±13% for control (P=.008, effect size d 0.91) and 107±9% versus 95±10% for grip strength (P=.022, effect size d 1.29). There was a trend for greater ER strength with PCM cooling (P=.091, effect size d 0.51). The EC strength was not impaired after pitching (P=.147) and was therefore unaffected by PCM cooling (P=.168). Elevations in soreness and CK were not different between treatments (Treatment by Time CK P=.139, shoulder soreness P=.885, forearm soreness P=.206). Conclusion: This is one of the first studies to document impairments in muscle function on the days following baseball pitching, and the first study showing a novel cryotherapy intervention that accelerates recovery of muscle function in baseball pitchers following a game.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-235
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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