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Think Twice about Ice Bath Recovery | BridgeAthletic

Posted by BridgeAthletic on Dec 4, 2019 9:46:14 AM

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Ice baths are a popular recovery tool for elite athletes and weekend warriors alike, but are they doing more harm than good? Previous research has found little conclusive evidence to support the benefits of an ice bath, but a 
recent study takes it a step further, suggesting that cold immersion after strength training is detrimental to both muscle growth and recovery.

Participants in the study were divided into two groups, and each group performed the same progressive resistance training program, 3 times per week for 7 weeks. After each workout, half of the participants simply sat in the gym for 15 minutes, while the other half soaked in a tub of 50-degree water for 15 minutes. After the 7-week experiment, both groups had gained strength, but the muscle composition was quite different between the groups. Muscle fiber growth was much greater in the group that was not exposed to cold water post-workout, and the biochemical makeup of these fibers showed higher levels of a certain protein known to stimulate tissue growth and lower levels of a protein that leads to tissue breakdown.

While the study was small and the first of its kind, the initial results are clear: if you’re looking to add muscle, steer clear of the post-workout ice bath.

 

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