It is no secret that injuries of various degrees and types are treated with ice. Whether it is a strained or pulled muscle, twisted ankle or any other injury that causes some degree of pain or soreness, ice does wonders in terms of reducing swelling and immediately starting the process of healing.
Please note that you can use ice as part of a body maintenance program as well….not just the treatment of injuries. Whenever you incur soreness in particular areas of your body, ice effectively reduces the chances that a mild injury or condition becomes more serious or chronic.
For example, after many of my favorite activities, something or the other is sore, so I always immediately ice whatever area or areas that are painful and sore. A major factor in ensuring results and constant progression is having the ability to recover faster and more completely. When your body recovers more efficiently, you increase its capacity for activity, intensity and consistency. Once you get used to icing down, you will notice a definite increase in your body’s ability to recover and ready itself for continued activity.
With all of that in mind, cool showers and ice baths are also effective. Obviously, there isn’t always a chance to ice down after some training sessions so showering or bathing in cool water will produce similar results. I know you are thinking “what?…a cold shower or bath right after working out?…no way!”
However, the trick is to not jump right into a cold shower if you are not used to this process but rather warm water, then gradually make the water colder. 10 minutes or more in cool water is a great way to get your entire body cool and refreshed. Once you get used to the process, you can simply just get right into the cold water and enjoy the cool-healing!
Workouts of many different types and intensities cause microscopic trauma within muscles, joints and connective tissues and there is no better way of reducing swelling and increasing healing than with the cool temperatures of cold-water or ice. Hot showers or hitting the steamroom after tough workouts may be more comfortable but heat on sore body parts simply magnifies trauma and prolongs soreness. Many would disagree but how often do you see doctors putting heat packs on injuries right after they occur?…..never!
I have used ice, ice baths and cool showers ever since I played college football and the results are undeniable. After tough practices, lifting sessions, sprints and games, I always performed my “cool-off” routine and I was always well recovered and ready to go for whatever was next.
Icing down or a cool shower for about 10 minutes is ample time. If you opt for a shower or bath, temperatures of around 54-60 degrees have been shown to be optimal. However, keep things simple and ice down if you have time and if you don’t, take a cold shower or bath…don’t over-think it! I have had much success with 10 minutes of this process.
Try this technique and I am certain you will never stop, it is a proven method for high level recovery that people should….but rarely use!
Try it, stick with it and let the healing begin!