The soreness that can occur after intense exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. It usually peaks between 24 and 48 hours later (Read more information about DOMS in “Nyeri Baik vs Nyeri Buruk”). The symptoms involve muscle stiffness, swelling, declines in strength, and localized muscle soreness. Experts think it's due to mechanical damage that occurs to the muscle fibers that can lead to inflammation and pain.
Nowadays there are many trends of cold water immersion after exercising. The temperature of the ice baths varies, usually around 10–15° Celsius. People sat in the baths up to the waist for five to 24 minutes. The ice baths were typically taken within 20 minutes of finishing the workout.
Can an ice bath really ward off the muscle soreness after an intense workout?
According to a new review, it is better than doing nothing and equal to other remedies such as compression stocking or stretching.
Chris Bleakley, PhD, a researcher at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, said "We only found an effect in favor of cold water immersion when it was compared to doing nothing -- that is, passive rest after exercise”. The ice bath reduced muscle soreness by about 20%, he says. There were no differences when cold water immersion was compared to other popular recovery interventions. The review is published in The Cochrane Library. Research on the safety of the method is lacking, Bleakley also found.
Gary A. Sforzo, PhD, a professor of exercise and sport sciences at Ithaca College said, “An ice bath 'does not seem to be any more effective for most people than taking a couple of ibuprofen."
The researchers of American College of Sports Medicine in 2014, did a research on two groups of young men on a bi-weekly resistance-training program. The first group took ice baths after each training session, while the other group did a low-intensity active warm-down on a bicycle. It turned out that icing suppressed the cell-signaling response that regulates muscle growth. Three months later, the scientists found that the ice-bath group didn’t gain nearly as much muscle as the bicycle warm-down group.
Why Ice Baths Might Work
Experts are not sure how an ice bath works. "A number of studies used blood samples to examine the effect of immersion on various biomarkers of inflammation and muscle damage. However, no studies found an effect on the inflammation response,” Bleakley says. The researchers did find a reduction in pain, and that can follow inflammation and muscle damage.
Ice Baths is not for Everyone
Not everyone should attempt an ice bath, Bleakley warns. "People shouldn’t underestimate the amount of shock that immersion in cold water can have on the body," he says. It can affect the heart, blood vessels, and respiratory system. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate. The long-term effects of regular ice baths aren't clear, he says.
So, How Beneficial Is a Post-Workout Ice Bath?
Hydrotherapy is said to soothe sore muscles, but too-cold temps may compromise muscle strength and active recovery. A new study in The Journal of Physiology suggests that while you may be less sore in the days to come, ice baths may actually compromise how much muscle you'll end up building from your workouts.
Australian researchers experiment result is, the ice bath group had less muscle mass and weaker strength on a leg press than the group that had been following an active recovery. For what it's worth, both groups saw muscle growth (probably thanks to the workout, not the recovery method)—the ice bath group just didn't have as much.
Well, don't blame the baths quite yet. According to Pino, Ph.D., exercise physiologist at the Sports Performance Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, “Post-exercise nutrition and sleep are of the utmost importance for active muscle growth.”
So should you slide into the cold? If your focus is on reducing soreness, it may help. However, Pino actually recommends ice baths just for recovery after high-intensity workouts. After sprints or high-intensity strength training, you can dip into a 10°C bath for eight to 10 minutes.