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After Exercise Recovery: Does Ice Water Help?

Fitday Editor
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After exercise recovery is very important for the well being of the body as well as for the results of the training. Your body needs to rest in order to restore its tonus and to regain its strength. There are several exercise recovery techniques which you can use to recover your body after effort, such as massages, stretching, cooling down and resting. There is also another technique: some athletes take baths in ice water to help them with soreness in the muscles and injury prevention.

After Exercise Recovery: Does Ice Water Help

There are several after exercise recovery practices used by professionals, practices which involve ice water therapy:

  • Ice water bathing
  • Ice massage
  • Contrast water therapy (alternation of warm and cold water)

Recovery techniques involving ice water are said to help reducing muscle soreness and injury prevention. The basis for these practices resides in the fact that when the body is exposed to low temperature when being in contact with ice water, the blood vessels are constricted. The alternation between constriction and dilation in blood vessels helps eliminate waste and toxins from the blood and tissues.

The ice water helps with the pain and stiffness in muscles and prevents the accumulation of lactic acid which leads to delayed onset of the muscle soreness (also known as muscle fever). The low temperature reduces body metabolism and physiological processes and it also prevent the swelling of the muscles.

Your body invigorates quickly and you avoid the tiredness and pain after exercise, so you are more motivated to continue.

Ice Baths After Exercise

After exercise you can take ice baths to invigorate your body. This practice implies immerging in a bathtub with water temperature of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius. You can get in and out of the low temperature water 5 to 10 times. If you can take it, you can have a series of immersions for a period up to 20 minutes.

Ice Massage After Exercise

If you want to try ice massage after exercise, you should put some body oil on your skin and then start massaging the muscles with ice with circular movements. Gradually increase the circles and massage a larger area. This practice is not recommended in the area where you have injuries, as you could stimulate inflammation.

This technique stimulates blood flow. You can also combine it with heat therapies like sauna or hot baths.

Contract Baths After Exercise

Contrast baths consist of taking a bath and alternating hot and cold water. You can have 30 seconds of cold water and then one or two minutes of hot water. The cold water can be around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius and the hot water between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius. You can alternate for about 3 times in a session.


The best thing for you is listen to your body. Use ice water recovery therapies only if your body can take these.

Be aware that, although they have a series of positive effects, these therapies can cause cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

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