April 27, 2021
Study: Icing Sore Muscles After Exercise Is a No-Go
Long day on the trail, in the water, at the gym? Lots of us reach for ice packs after taxing the bejesus out of our bodies, numbing sore muscles, trying to keep down inflammation.
Ever wonder why you’d want to prevent inflammation, though? It’s the body’s natural response after all.
And a new study suggests retarding that inflammatory response with ice just prolongs recovery, and can lessen the growth in muscle you may be hoping to gain.
Researchers at Kobe University in Japan conducted a study using mice to compare recovery rates between mice with tiny ice packs applied to their sore bodies and those without. Scientists noted that in mice with no ice packs, inflammatory cells immediately moved into muscle tissue and started cleaning up the place after a strenuous workout. After a few days, anti-inflammatory cells took over and calmed everything down. Two weeks later, the muscles were fully healed and stronger.
Not so with the chilled mice.
Every aspect of the healing process was delayed in mice that had ice packs applied after their workout. Two weeks later, while the non-ice using mice were raring to go, the iced mice still showed evidence of tissue damage.
What does this all mean? One, don’t ice your all-mouse basketball team after a game. Two, consider just letting your body heal naturally, without ice, after a butt-kicking ride and leave that YETI closed.