Ice Baths and Contrast Water Therapy for Recovery

Taking a post-workout dip in an ice water bath is a common practice among many athletes. Known as cold water immersion or cryotherapy, it is used for faster recovery and to reduce pain and muscle soreness after intense workouts or competitions.

In addition to the ice bath, some athletes use contrast water therapy (alternating between cold water and warmer water) to achieve the same effect. From elite runners to many professional rugby and soccer players, the post-workout ice bath is a common practice routine.

Like many practices, it is good to ask yourself if this works. See what the research says about the pros and cons of cold water immersion or contrast water therapy after exercise.

The theory behind cold soaking after exercise

The theory behind ice baths is related to the fact that intense exercise causes microtrauma, which are small tears in muscle fibers. This microscopic muscle damage is actually a target of exercise because it stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair damage and strengthen muscles (muscle hypertrophy). But it's also linked to pain and late-onset muscle soreness (ITDM), which occurs between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.

The ice bath is believed to:

  1. Contract blood vessels and remove wastes such as lactic acid from affected tissues.
  2. Decreases metabolic activity and slows down physiological processes.
  3. Reduces swelling and tissue degradation.

Then, with rewarming, it was believed that increased blood flow would speed up circulation and, in turn, improve the healing process.

Although there is no current protocol on the optimal time and temperature for cold dip routines, most athletes or coaches who use them recommend a water temperature between 54 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 15 degrees Celsius) and soaking times from five to 10 degrees centigrade. minutes and sometimes up to 20 minutes.

While this is the theory behind cold water immersion for exercise recovery, conclusive research on the pros, cons, and optimal time and temperatures is still a long way off.

Scientific research shows the pros and cons of ice baths

Of the studies looking at the effects of ice baths, cold water immersion, and contrast water therapy on exercise recovery and muscle pain, most offer inconclusive or conflicting results.

Research suggests that freezing muscles immediately after peak exercise suppresses inflammation, stunts muscle fiber growth, and slows muscle regeneration. That would be bad news for athletes trying to increase muscle size and strength.

A Cochrane review of 17 studies concluded that there was some evidence that cold water immersion reduced late-onset muscle pain compared to rest or no intervention. There was insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not fatigue or recovery improved. Most of the effects were seen in performance studies. All studies were of low quality and did not have a standard for adverse effects or active follow-up of participants.

Contrast water therapy showed, through a review of 13 studies, some evidence that it was better at reducing recovery from exercise-induced muscle pain than passive recovery or rest, but the difference was minimal. There was no difference in muscle pain between contrast water therapy, cold water immersion, active recovery, compression, or stretching.

Ice baths offer limited benefits for athletes

While it is clear that more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be reached, the information available so far indicates the following:

  • Active recovery is still generally accepted as the gold standard and by far the best form of recovery after intense exercise.
  • Soaking in cold water after a single intense workout offers temporary pain relief and can actually aid recovery - at least an athlete's perceived experience of a faster recovery.
  • Alternating hot and cold baths (contrast water therapy) can help athletes feel better and provide temporary pain relief.
  • Ice baths are not required. Cold baths (75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius) are just as good, and perhaps better, than ice baths.
  • Passive recovery (complete rest) is not an effective way to recover.
  • Hot baths after strenuous exercise can make it difficult to recover from exercise.

How to do cold water therapy

If you're trying to soak in cool or cold water after exercising, don't overdo it. A review of studies found that the best routine was 11 to 15 minutes of immersion at a temperature between 52 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (11 to 15 degrees C.) This time should be long enough to reap the benefit and avoid the risks.

Since the cold can make your muscles tense and stiff, it's a good idea to fully warm up 30 to 60 minutes later with a hot bath or hot drink.

Contrast water therapy (hot-cold bath)

If you prefer alternating hot and cold baths, the most common method includes one minute in a cold tub at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius) and two minutes in a hot tub at 99 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Celsius). degrees Celsius) repeated about three times.

Enjoy Watching This Video About Strength

Source: Exercising Health

Did you find this post useful or inspiring? Save THIS PIN to your Fitness Board on Pinterest! :sonrojo:

Ok, That is all for now…

If you enjoyed this article please, Share and Like it. Thanks.
See you in the next post, Have a Wonderful Day!

You may also like 👇🏼👇🏼

Go up