Muscle Recovery: A Complete Guide

by Jackie Wicks

Icing Tired Muscles

Bucket of IceIce baths are often used after a hard workout, and many professional athletes will have them as part of their recovery practice. You can do an ice bath yourself in your home as well! Fill up a tub with cold water, and add extra ice if you feel brave. Sit in the cold water for about 5 — 10 minutes.

Icing is thought to increase muscle recovery time and decrease muscle soreness, and many research studies have concluded that icing does indeed decrease recovery time. The cold environment helps reduce muscle swelling and tears.

Some athletes will also do contrast therapy which is alternating cold and warm water. To take advantage of this, a difference of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. For example, this could be using 50F and 100F water. Plunge your body (or body part) into the cold water for a minute, then switch into the warm water for 3 — 4 minutes. This can help increase blood flow, and increased blood flow helps the muscle recover.

Using warm water alone has not been shown to increase muscle recovery time. However, warm baths or soaks in a hot tub can decrease stress, which will decrease cortisol and possibly contribute to a faster mental recovery.

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