Recently there has been a bit of a paradigm shift in how researchers are viewing recovery.  There has been an intense debate about whether or not some of the recovery methods we use actually hinder us in the long run.  Below is an article from Runner’s World that addresses whether or not icing is conducive to recovery.

One of the big debates in sports science over the last few years has been the question of “too much recovery.” Is it possible that the techniques we use to recover from workouts—ice baths, antioxidant supplements,compression garments, etc.—could in some cases be counterproductive? After all, the whole point of a workout is to impose physical stress on your body, so that it will adapt and get fitter and stronger. What if, by removing some of this stress with recovery aids, you’re also removing the signals that tell your body to adapt?

While a few studies have investigated this question, the debate has mostly been theoretical so far. But now data is starting to roll in. An Australian team led by Llion Roberts of the University of Queensland and the Queensland Academy of Sport has just published the most comprehensive look yet at the link between ice baths and training adaptations in the Journal of Physiology—and the results are extremely interesting.

The study has two parts. First, they put 21 volunteers through a 12-week, twice-a-week strength training program and assessed changes in strength and muscle mass (measured with MRI). Half of the subjects took a 10-minute ice bath at 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) after each workout, while the other half did 10 minutes of easy stationary biking. In pretty much every measure, the ice bath group did worse. Here’s muscle mass (ACT is the control group that did active recovery, while CWI is the cold-water immersion group):

Share This