HOT OR NOT?
So the understanding behind ice baths is that cold exposure (cryotherapy) will combat small tears known as micro tears or micro trauma in muscle fibers caused by intense repetitive activity.
To most of us playing sport or engaged in an event these tears are felt with muscle tightness, joint stiffness and niggles that often make us hobble around for a day or two.
The theory is that cold constricts blood vessels preventing inflammation, reducing muscle spasm, numbing muscle pain and preventing further tissue breakdown.
BUT, are these benefits speculative??
Is it no more beneficial than doing the ice bucket challenge as a fundraiser?
According to James Broateh, PhD candidate in exercise physiology at Victorian University there is a subjective nature to muscle soreness and the benefits of an ice bath may be purely psychological.
Another study in the Journal of Human Sport shows that cryotherapy allows greater preservation of muscle strength endurance.
Anecdotally we have seen the benefits first hand of patients heading for a quick dip in the bay for 10-20 minutes after a triathlon or marathon which include being able to return to training quicker with less post event injury.
With controversy comes uncertainty so we can say that prevention is best. An ice or dip after an event has the potential to reduce muscle soreness and may get you back into your training routine without the increased risk of further injury.