Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Post-run ice baths not beneficial for strength, soreness

Date:
August 19, 2013
Source:
University of New Hampshire
Summary:
Dunking in a tub of ice water after exercise – a surprisingly popular post-workout regimen used by athletes to reduce inflammation and speed recovery – is time consuming and bone-achingly painful. New research finds that it may not be effective, either.

A chilly subject in a study on the effectiveness of post-exercise ice baths.
Credit: Amy Davies

Dunking in a tub of ice water after exercise -- a surprisingly popular post-workout regimen used by athletes to reduce inflammation and speed recovery -- is time consuming and bone-achingly painful. New research from the University of New Hampshire finds that it may not be effective, either.

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers report that research subjects who engaged in post-exercise cryotheraphy, or ice baths, showed no mitigation of post-exercise strength loss or decreased soreness compared to a control group.

"It doesn't help you feel better and it doesn't help you perform better," says lead researcher Naomi Crystal '11G. "Ice baths are very popular as a treatment, but the research is really mixed as to whether they're beneficial. They're miserable. If it doesn't work, you don't want to waste your time."

The study was Crystal's master's degree thesis; co-authors are UNH associate professor of kinesiology Dain LaRoche, assistant professor of kinesiology Summer Cook, and associate professor of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences Dave Townson.

For the study, the researchers recruited 20 recreationally active college-age men to run for 40 minutes downhill at a grade of -10 percent. Half the subjects then submitted to a 20-minute ice bath, standing in a tall recycling bin filled with thigh-high ice water cooled to a chilly five degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). "That's really cold," Crystal admits. "I had some guys close to tears."

Crystal was interested in the ice bath's effect on soreness, strength, swelling and inflammation. The researchers conducted three post-exercise measures taken at intervals from one hour to three days: they measured the subjects' perceived soreness while walking down stairs; tested quadriceps strength on a resistance machine; measured thigh circumference; and looked at the concentration of plasma chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), a marker for inflammation, in blood samples.

The researchers found no difference in strength or perceived soreness between the subjects who took ice baths and the control group. Thigh circumference did not change significantly for any of the subjects after the run.

Difference between the two groups' CCL2 concentrations, while not statistically significant, showed a trend toward lower concentrations in the cryotherapy subjects, although this measure varied greatly between the subjects. "The study suggested that there might have been a mild reduction in inflammation, but it wasn't conclusive," says LaRoche, who was Crystal's advisor.

The lack of difference between the control and the cryotherapy group surprised the researchers. "I expected to see an improvement in soreness, an improvement in strength with the ice bath," says Crystal. She notes that research on ice baths has produced a range of results, in part because there's no standard protocol for the treatment.

LaRoche commends Crystal's study design for using biochemical, physical, and subjective measures, an approach that crossed departmental lines to involve co-authors from her department as well as Townson, from the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. "It had a variety of ways of looking at whether ice baths were effective or not," he says.

While the researchers state that their study does not support the use of cryotherapy for recovery from exercise, Crystal's personal view is more moderated. "I'm not convinced that it doesn't help at all," she says. "Use them sparingly. Use them in tournament situations, use them with an athlete who has done something extraordinary. But for day-to-day athletes, I wouldn't recommend them. They're painful, and they're time consuming."

The article, "Effect of cryotherapy on muscle recovery and inflammation following a bout of damaging exercise," is available online in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Hampshire. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Naomi J. Crystal,david H. Townson,summer B. Cook,dain P. Laroche. Effect of cryotherapy on muscle recovery and inflammation following a bout of damaging exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2013

Cite This Page:

University of New Hampshire. "Post-run ice baths not beneficial for strength, soreness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130819162641.htm>.
University of New Hampshire. (2013, August 19). Post-run ice baths not beneficial for strength, soreness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130819162641.htm
University of New Hampshire. "Post-run ice baths not beneficial for strength, soreness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130819162641.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins