Cold baths best for muscle soreness

Taking a cold-water or ice bath may reduce exercise-related muscle soreness but it's not clear whether it can cause harmful side effects, a new evidence review indicates.

The use of cold or ice baths is increasingly popular among elite and amateur athletes as a way to reduce muscle inflammation that can lead to stiffness, swelling and soreness a day or more after a workout.

In this study, researchers reviewed 17 small clinical trials of cold baths that included a total of 366 people. In trials that compared cold baths to resting or no intervention, cold baths were associated with a significant reduction in muscle soreness one to four days after exercise.

In most trials, participants spent five to 24 minutes in water that was between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, although in some cases the water was colder or participants were asked to get in and out of the water at set times.

However, few of the trials compared cold-water immersion to other interventions, noted the authors of the review published in the journal The Cochrane Library.

Results

"We found some evidence that immersing yourself in cold water after exercise can reduce muscle soreness, but only compared to resting or doing nothing. Some caution around these results is advisable because the people taking part in the trials would have known which treatment they received, and some of the reported benefits may be due to a placebo response," lead author Chris Bleakley, of the health and rehabilitation sciences department at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, said in a journal news release.

"There may be better ways to reduce soreness, such as warm-water immersion, light jogging or using compression stockings, but we don't currently have enough data to reach any conclusions about these interventions," he added.

Most of the studies failed to report any harmful side effects, so there is a lack of information about the potential risks of cold water immersion. Higher-quality studies are needed, the researchers said.

"It is important to consider that cold-water immersion induces a degree of shock on the body," Bleakley noted. "We need to be sure that people aren't doing anything harmful, especially if they are exposing themselves to very cold water for long periods."

(HealthDay News, February 2012)


(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Who do you think should accept responsibility for the dire state of Eskom’s power system?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Eskom’s current management must take the fall
4% - 176 votes
Previous bosses from Zuma years are to blame
32% - 1601 votes
Mantashe and govt have been asleep at the wheel
31% - 1532 votes
There are many culprits; it’s a complex situation
33% - 1636 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.35
-1.0%
Rand - Pound
21.29
-1.3%
Rand - Euro
18.29
-0.9%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.80
-1.4%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-1.2%
Gold
1,798.16
+0.5%
Silver
23.50
+1.9%
Palladium
1,964.75
+1.8%
Platinum
1,026.12
+1.7%
Brent Crude
76.15
-1.3%
Top 40
68,351
+0.1%
All Share
74,548
+0.1%
Resource 10
73,315
-0.7%
Industrial 25
92,605
+1.0%
Financial 15
15,401
-0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE