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Muscular pain eased with a cold bath

15th February 2012

Experts have urged caution after evidence suggested that taking a cold bath after exercise can soothe sore muscles.

water

They warn that it remains unclear whether it is totally safe to plunge into cold water after running or cycling as the shock on the system could be harmful in other ways.

Researchers at the UK Cochrane Centre looked at 17 small studies involving 366 people and raised concerns that at this stage there is not enough evidence to back the technique, which is sometime called cryotherapy.

It has been used by elite athletes but has become popular among amateurs as well.

Comedian Eddie Izzard, who last year ran 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for charity, said his daily ice baths were necessary to stop his legs swelling.

In the studies examined by the Cochrane team participants got into cold water after running, cycling or resistance training, spending between five and 24 minutes in water that was 10-15C.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Bleakley, of the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, said: “We found some evidence that immersing yourself in cold water after exercise can reduce muscle soreness, but only compared to resting or doing nothing.”

But he stressed that cold water immersion could also induce a degree of shock on the body.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy warned the technique was not suitable for everyone and the shock could be damaging for those with an underlying heart condition and for people with the circulatory condition Raynaud’s, the impact could be devastating.

 

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