Restoration Collection: Do Ice Baths work?

Recovery Series: Do Ice Baths work?

In recent times, strategies reminiscent of chilly-water immersion/cryotherapy have develop into extraordinarily well-liked as a method of maximising restoration after coaching intensely, choosing up a smooth-tissue damage, or exercising in excessive volumes.  However do they really give the specified outcomes, and the way do they work?

Chilly-water immersion (ie ice baths) as a restoration device appears to be in all places. You possibly can’t learn an article a few rugby staff, or watch an advert for GAA protection, with out seeing somebody gritting their tooth as they slide into a shower filled with ice water that they may spring from, a number of painful minutes later, with all their aches and pains seemingly cured. 

The phrase Cryotherapy can be utilized to explain all strategies of “chilly remedy” however in well-liked consciousness it has come to principally describe cryotherapy suites (primarily exposing the physique to excessive low temperatures for brief durations of time). Cryo-suites are principally freezers, the dimensions of a small room, that you would be able to stand in or stroll round in for a few minutes in temperatures as little as minus one hundred levels centigrade. These amenities have additionally acquired an enormous quantity of publicity over the previous few years, with excessive-profile sports activities groups and athletes commonly visiting cryo-clinics everywhere in the world to avail of their providers.

However these strategies will not be with out their critics. Chilly water immersion, cryotherapy, even the previous dependable of placing an icepack on an damage…all have turn out to be controversial during the last couple of years.


At its core, the reasoning behind all “chilly” sort remedies or therapies is that publicity to chilly has been confirmed to scale back irritation within the human physique, and other people sometimes report a discount in ache after these remedies.

To many this appears proof sufficient that these strategies should certainly work, however there are extra issues to think about: is stopping or decreasing irritation (and even ache) truly serving to us recuperate from coaching?

Opponents of those strategies say no. They argue that irritation is the physique’s regular, pure response to damage or coaching stimulus, and to intrude with this course of through the use of chilly therapies is pointless and even counter-productive.  Additionally they say that any ache aid injured individuals might expertise following chilly therapies is a results of the chilly interfering with the physique’s nerve impulses and never an enchancment within the damage itself.  There’s additionally proof that individuals who have a robust damaging response to chilly therapies (think about somebody who hates the chilly being requested to get into a shower filled with ice!) will see a robust rise of their ranges of cortisol (the stress hormone) which has been proven to hamper restoration.

Have you ever ever suffered a mushy tissue damage and been beneficial to comply with the properly-recognized “R.I.C.E.” (Relaxation/Ice/Compression/Elevation) Protocol? It has been in quite common use because the Nineteen Seventies however the inventor of the phrase has since disowned it, saying he might have been flawed and placing ice on an damage may truly hinder restoration.

Along with these issues, a number of scientific research have just lately discovered that chilly therapies can adversely have an effect on the constructive variations that happen within the physique following train, decreasing the advantages of coaching periods. Apparently although, this appears to vary relying on the kind of coaching somebody does. Analysis exhibits that endurance athletes like cyclists or runners can truly work more durable, extra frequently, when utilizing chilly therapies like ice baths. However power athletes partaking in resistance coaching have demonstrated a lower in coaching impact when utilizing the ice baths.


Referring to a variety of current related scientific research, their outcomes could possibly be summarised like this:

The arguments for

Discount in irritation/ might improve restoration in endurance athletes/ ache aid

The arguments towards

Irritation is a crucial bodily response to damage or coaching load and utilizing chilly therapies to intrude with this course of does extra hurt than good/ advantages of resistance or power coaching could also be lowered and coaching variations negatively affected/ ache aid is because of masking of ache receptors, not therapeutic of damage

The last word verdict needs to be that these therapies shouldn’t be deserted, however used with all the above issues in thoughts. They could be best for you however they could not, and the world definitely must be researched extra completely sooner or later.

Conor Kennedy

Private Coach & Health Teaching

Conor has labored within the area of power and fitness teaching full time for eight years, and has single-handedly coached over eight,000 periods (each group periods, and one-on-one).
Learn extra about Connor Kennedy


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Updated: August 25, 2019 — 1:51 pm

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