I’ve just published an article which ranks the 5 best supplements for healing sore muscles.
Because let’s face it – sore muscles suck.
And whilst I’m confident the supplements recommended will speed up recovery, there are other options which you may want to explore.
Now don’t get me wrong…
Supplements are great, but they’re not for everyone.
Perhaps you’d rather spend your hard-earned cash to watch your favorite football team.
That’s fine with me. No one’s here to judge.
Or perhaps you’ve had bad experiences with using supplements. Again, no problem.
So, with that in mind, I went on an adventure to find natural ways to heal muscle pain.
Within minutes of starting my adventure, I was reeled into the idea that ice baths may help with muscle soreness.
Well, I’ve had great experiences with cold showers, and studies show that cold showers can improve sleep quality and reduce stress.
Since sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery, I thought cold showers may be helpful for muscle soreness, but ice baths would be even better.
(Since your muscles are in contact with cold temperature for longer in ice baths.)
So, after hours of research, I came to the conclusion that ice baths will help some of you.
Why not everyone?
Well, there are lots of different factors which affect muscle recovery from exercise.
Whilst ice baths will help muscle soreness in some ways, they won’t help in others.
If ice baths do improve your muscle soreness, then fantastic.
But if they don’t, then fear not – this article should have you covered.
Now let’s look at some why reasons why ice baths may help you.
Reasons Why Ice Baths May Work For Muscle Soreness
1. Cold Exposure reduces stress
Stress seems to be a hot topic right now.
(For all the wrong reasons…)
Not only does it make you feel like crap, but it harms your health in other ways too.
For example, recent research has shown that chronic stress increases inflammation.
When inflamed, your body has a much harder time to recover as it’s not functioning optimally.
Now for the good news…
Cold water bathing has been shown to reduce stress, which results in less inflammation so your body can focus on healing your sore muscles.
Another benefit of reduced stress is improved sleep quality.
As you’re probably aware, your muscles recover and repair during sleep, so high quality sleep is vital to healing muscle soreness.
2. Ice Baths lower inflammation
There’s a lot of research that shows how effective cold therapy is on inflamed muscle tissue.
For example, one study (albeit in rats) looked at how damaged muscle tissue responded to different temperatures.
The results showed that the rats exposed to the coldest temperature had less swelling and less inflammation in their muscle tissue.
This makes Ice Baths a worthy option, since inflamed muscle tissue is one of the leading drivers of muscle soreness.
(FYI – The inflammation is caused by micro tears in your muscle fibres, which is a normal part of the healing process. This isn’t the same type of inflammation brought on by stress.)
3. Many High-Level Athletes swear by Ice Baths
In the whole world, who do you think values muscle recovery the most?
It’s got to be Elite sports stars, right?
After all, their careers literally depend on them being in top physical condition.
So, let’s just say if people like LeBron James take ice baths, then that’s a good enough reason why you should be!
Reasons Why Ice Baths May Not Work For Muscle Soreness
Whilst the science on ice baths is promising, they probably won’t work for everyone.
Let’s find out why.
1. Ice Baths are only one piece of the puzzle
When you work out, your muscle fibres are broken down which creates low-level inflammation.
(As we’ve covered, ice baths can help reduce this inflammation.)
In order to repair and rebuild these damaged muscle fibres, your body needs an abundant supply of amino acids.
In other words, you need to be eating plenty of protein (which is then broken down into amino acids).
So, if you’re taking ice baths but AREN’T consuming enough protein, then your muscles won’t be able to recover properly.
2. Little human research available
Whilst the science on cold therapy and muscle inflammation is fairly strong in animals, there seems to be a lack of studies done on humans.
In fact, I could only find one study that looked at using ice baths for muscle soreness in humans.
Although the study did suggest that ice baths improved muscle soreness, there needs to be more research done to get a clearer picture.
3. Ice Baths can be hard to stick to
I’ve never had the luxury of taking an ice bath myself.
However, I’ve had enough cold showers in the last 12 months to know just how uncomfortable the extreme cold can be.
But enough talking about me, even LeBron James described them as borderline torture in the video shown earlier.
(If LeBron James describes something as borderline torture, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is.)
This can make the habit of ice baths a difficult one to keep, since us humans are creatures of comfort.
And generally, the less consistent you are with your habits, the less results you see.
Ice baths are a promising weapon in the war against muscle soreness.
They’ve been shown to relieve stress and are effective at lowering inflamed muscle tissue in animal studies.
(But I totally understand if you’re still not convinced.)
For those of you who are on the fence?
I’d just copy what elite Basketball players do, if you get me 😉