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The Best Way to Use Ice Baths

New research shows that cold-water immersion inhibits muscle repair.

Ice Bath for Exercise Recovery

If repairing and building muscle is a primary goal, people may want to think twice about taking an ice bath after training. New research conducted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands shows that cold-water immersion during recovery from resistance-type exercise reduces muscles’ ability to take up protein for repair and to synthesize protein for muscle building.

Studies do show that using an ice bath can reduce muscle soreness; therefore, engaging in the practice may still be a good strategy if your goal is to lessen soreness after a bout of heavy training. But this research shows that taking an ice bath also affects formation of new proteins for muscle repair and building. The temperature of the ice baths used in the study was 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius).

Read the full study in The Journal of Physiology (2019; doi:10.1113/JP278996).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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