Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physical Education


The use of hydrotherapy as a relief against such common minor discomforts as muscle stiffness or muscle soreness has long been advocated by athletic trainers and physical therapists. It is known to have gotten its start as early as World War I in France where it was used as a therapeutic agent for war casualties suffering from gunshot wounds. In athletic training, a question which very often arises is whether or not the whirlpool method of therapy should be used on an individual within a few hours prior to participation in physical activities requiring muscular strength, endurance and quick muscular response. In many cases where whirlpool treatment was indicated, it was withheld because of the possible draining effect it is considered to have on a person’s muscular strength, endurance and reaction time. The author has found within the span of his experience with the use of the whirlpool that athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers offer considerable opposition to its use just before competitive sports participation. In reviewing many sources, the author was unable to locate any research supporting the concept that hydrotherapy should not be used immediately before athletic competition. Wickstrom and Polk indicated “there appears to be no research substantiating the idea that hydro-therapy is contraindicated when the subject would have to participate in physical activity requiring muscular strength-endurance within a few hours after treatment”. In a letter concerning the author’s request for information relating to this study, Art Dickinson, Jr., athletic trainer, Arizona State College, Tempe, Arizona, and associate editor of the National Athletic Trainers Association Journal, said: “I know of practically no previous investigations in this area,” but, that in opposition, he knew of no one who advocated this “technique” of whirlpool therapy before athletic performance. In an additional attempt by the author to locate pertinent material, a letter was written to the research Department, Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Earl C. Elkins, Associate Consultant, in his reply did not mention an awareness of any studies opposing water therapy of this type before athletic activity. He specifically pointed out that “we have not done anything in this area”. It is hoped that this study will help provide suitable evidence upon which to base a more definite view in regard to this concept of “contraindication” of whirlpool therapy prior to athletic participation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of immersion in a heated whirlpool bath on muscular strength, general endurance and reaction time.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Physical education and training


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages