-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Taking an ice bath after
a workout does not reduce soreness or strength loss, according to a
"It doesn't help you feel better and it doesn't help you perform better," lead researcher Naomi Crystal said in a University of New Hampshire news release.
"Ice baths are very popular as a treatment, but the research is really mixed as to whether they're beneficial. They're miserable. If it doesn't work, you don't want to waste your time," she noted.
The study included 20 recreationally active college-aged men who
ran for 40 minutes. Half of them then took a 20-minute ice bath in
thigh-high ice water that was 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
"That's really cold," Crystal said. "I had some guys close to tears."
The participants underwent follow-up tests to measure their
soreness while walking down stairs, their quadriceps strength,
their thigh circumference, and levels of an inflammation marker in
There were no differences in strength or soreness between the
men who took ice baths and those who did not. Thigh circumference
did not change significantly for any of the participants.
The men who took ice baths did show a possible mild reduction in
inflammation, but the findings were not conclusive, according to
the study published online recently in the
European Journal of Applied Physiology.
Despite the findings, Crystal isn't convinced that ice baths do
not help at all.
"Use them sparingly. Use them in tournament situations, use them with an athlete who has done something extraordinary. But for day-to-day athletes, I wouldn't recommend them. They're painful, and they're time consuming," she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the
benefits of physical activity.
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