Cold or ice bath after a workout can reduce muscle inflammation, but for now experts do not know whether it can leave the negative consequences.
Athletes often immersed their body in ice baths to reduce inflammation of muscles after a workout to avoid stiffness, swelling or pain in the muscles the next day . Does this treatment ensures success ?
Researchers of the Department of Health and Rehabilitation, University of Ulster reviewed 17 small clinical trials of cold or ice baths after training with a total of 366 respondents. They mainly compared the effects of these baths with no intervention or rest after exercise, and cold baths were associated with significantly less pain in the muscles up to four days after exercise.
In most studies, respondents have spent between five and 24 minutes in water temperatures on average between ten and 15 degrees Celsius. In some cases, the respondents came from the bath and returned to it at a desired time.
“We found some evidence that immersion in cold water after exercise may reduce muscle pain, but only in parallel with the rest. Advised caution about these results because the participants knew what kind of treatment received, and some of the reported benefits could be attributed to placebo effect” explained the study leader Chris Bleakley.
“It is possible that there are better ways to reduce inflammation, such as immersion in hot water, light jogging or compression stockings, but currently we do not have enough data to reach conclusions about these interventions,” concluded the study’s lead author published in the magazine The Cochrane Library .
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In most studies they have not mentioned side effects, therefore, Irish researchers claim to have enough information about possible risks of immersion in cold water. Adding that they need to do more quality study: “It is important to note that immersion in cold water stimulates the degree of shock to the body. We must be sure that people do not do something harmful, especially if they exhibit a very long period of cold water”.
Ice bath after exercise slows catabolic processes (decomposition) of 90 percent. Cold tightens blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which in turn reduces the swelling of the muscle. Once you emerge from the water body, the tissue is heated, the blood flows faster, and so the cell decomposition is faster in the lymphatic system (the body recycles them so effectively). “Not only do ice baths soothe inflammation, but it helps flush harmful metabolic residues from the muscles,” said David Terry, a famous American runner.
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