RECOVERY: Ice for sore muscles? Think again!
May 13, 2021 • 1 min read
-- Icing muscles after strenuous exercise is not just ineffective, it could be counterproductive
Ice packs reduce soreness and swelling but could slow healing.
A cautionary new animal study has found that icing alters the molecular environment inside injured muscles in detrimental ways, slowing healing.
The study involved mice, not people, but adds to mounting evidence that icing muscles after strenuous exercise is not just ineffective; it could be counterproductive.
Researchers put mice through their paces and saw clear evidence of damage to fibres.
In the tissue of mice that had not been iced, they saw a rapid muster of pro-inflammatory cells. Within hours, these cells began busily removing cellular debris, until, by the third day after the workout, most of the damaged fibres had been cleared away. At that point, anti-inflammatory cells showed up, together with specialised muscle cells that rebuild tissue, and by the end of two weeks, these muscles appeared fully healed.
Not so in the iced muscle, where recovery seemed markedly delayed. It took seven days for these tissues to reach the same levels of pro-inflammatory cells as on day three in the unchilled muscle, with both the clearance of debris and arrival of anti-inflammatory cells similarly slowed. Even after two weeks, these muscles showed lingering molecular signs of tissue damage and incomplete healing.
Damaged, aching muscles know how to heal themselves.
Chi ****ll out and leave the ice packs in the cooler.