Jan 29, 2015Why Do Ice Baths Work?
An ice bath surrounds entire muscle groups to constrict blood flow, which is thought to help flush lactic acid. Along with swelling, it is believed that lactic acid may contribute to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It will also reduce swelling caused by the tiny multiple muscle injuries.
Every time you train strenuously, regardless if you are lifting weights, playing tennis, or running, you cause tiny, microscopic tears to your muscles. When these tears occurs to soft tissue, capillaries and blood vessels tear, muscle and soft tissue cells may ruptured. This triggers the body’s response to injury, the inflammatory response.
It is the bodies attempt to isolate the injured area from further damage, the body’s natural immobilizer. The injured area swells, the visible evidence of the inflammatory response. Swelling places pressure on surrounding tissue and nerve endings, causing pain, and stiffness, which can last for several days.
Applying an ice pack to an injury causes the tissue and blood vessels to constrict. (Similar to how your skin constricts forming goose bumps, when exposed to cold) The constricted blood vessels allow less blood and plasma to the injured area. This limits the amount of fluid collecting at the injury site.
Limiting the amount of fluid reduces general swelling to the area. In short: Ice reduces swelling when placed directly on an injured area for a short period. The reduction in swelling, along with the numbing effect of ice eases the discomfort.
The tiny tears will repair and are what ultimately will make you stronger. It is how you build muscle, get stronger, and run further. However, your body reacts to the tiny, multiple soft tissue injuries in the same manner as it would if you had sustained one larger injury- with swelling and pain and stiffness, usually occurring a day or so after. This is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Using an ice bath after strenuous exercise works in the same manner as applying an ice pack to an injured area. Usually used for the lower body, the athlete sits in a tub of ice water. This allows the ice water to surround the entire muscle groups of the legs and lower trunk.
The ice bath constricts blood flow, thought to help flush lactic acid. Along with swelling, it is believed that lactic acid may contribute to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It will also reduce swelling caused by the tiny multiple muscle injuries. Ice baths should be no longer than 10 minutes.
It is not a coincidence that most professional and college sports teams, trainers, sports medicine specialists and physical therapist use ice bath therapy as a treatment modality for injured athletes. Trainers and coaches considered it a vital step in the recovery process and one method in the prevention of injuries. It is utilized, because it works.
Ice baths help professional athletes maintain their grueling training regiments. It helps them get back to the gym sooner, reduces the odds they will sustain an injury, and keeps them healthy for more games and practices. When training hard counts – maximize the amount of training your body can handle by using an efficient recovering program that includes regular ice baths.
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