Researchers Pour Cold Water On Ice-Bath Theory for Recovery

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Queensland exercise scientists have debunked the idea that ice baths are an effective way to speed up muscle recovery after strength training.

They say athletes who immerse themselves in icy cold water are hindering long-term gains in muscle mass and strength and it would be better for them to “warm down” on an exercise bike.
Their 12-week study involving 21 physically active men shows that not only does cold-water immersion attenuate muscle adaptation, it also blunts the activation of key proteins and satellite cells in skeletal muscle up to two days after strength exercise.

Post-exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long-term adaptations in muscle to strength training:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/JP270570/pdf

The researchers from the University of Queensland and QUT say they are unsure why ice baths have this effect, but a reduction of muscle blood flow could be one mechanism.
Their advice to athletes is to stay clear of cold water, at least after strength training.

“The present findings contribute to an emerging theme that cold-water immersion and other strategies (eg antioxidant supplements, non=steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that are intended to mitigate and improve resilience to physiological stress associated with exercise may actually be counter-productive to muscle adaptation,” write the researchers in The Journal of Physiology.
Cold water immersion attenuated long term gains in muscle mass and strength. It also blunted the activation of key proteins and satellite cells in skeletal muscle up to 2 days after strength exercise. Post-exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long-term adaptations in muscle to strength training

Individuals who use strength training to improve athletic performance, recover from injury or maintain their health should therefore reconsider whether to use cold water immersion as an adjuvant to their training.

Low Level Laser Therapy utilises infra-red light energy to stimulate blood flow and cell recovery. At Laser Pain Therapy Australia we recognise that ice inhibits blood flow and therefore tissue healing and recovery, and we always encourage our patients to apply warmth to their painful areas. Good to see increasing evidence supporting this practice and dissuading people from icing tissues following training and injury.

Post-exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long-term adaptations in muscle to strength training

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