ice bath, bath, timing, cold

WHEN TO TAKE AN ICE BATH

There’s no need to jump in immediately.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE GIST
Bathing in 55-degree water for 10 to 20 minutes is equally effective at promoting recovery whether you do it immediately post-workout or up to two hours later, according to a new study in The International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology.
EXPERT INSIGHT
Intense workouts damage the muscle fibers, which in turn release inflammatory markers to try to repair themselves, explains Michael Ryan, Ph.D., associate professor of exercise science at Fairmont State University in West Virginia. 

That leads to stiffness, swelling, and pain in the muscles, which can impact performance the next day. Ice baths mitigate those inflammatory responses by constricting blood vessels. Since they peak one to five hours post-workout, there’s no rush to cool off. 
THE BOTTOM LINE
You'll likely benefit from taking an ice bath within several hours after a tough session—and maybe even one to two days later, says Lance Dalleck, Ph.D., the author of the study and an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison.
 
Ice baths are most beneficial after high-intensity exercise, endurance training, or workouts involving eccentric muscle contractions (like running downhill or doing squats, push-ups, or pull-ups).