We all grew up with “RICE”: rest, ice, compression, elevation or in some situations, rest, immobilize, cold, elevate. This is for injuries, and soreness from exercise was often viewed in the same light.
So, we were advised to ice it.
Then, we were told ice hinders recovery.
So, we were told to use heat, if we prefer, or to do nothing.
Now, we are told we should not do nothing. The good thing this time is that we have a little science to back it up.
Research recently induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) through squats and tested soreness, swelling, and strength loss over several days. DOMS begins usually 24-48 hours after strenuous exercise or unique exercise (movements that are new to you).
- The study found that doing nothing to help the affected area fared the worst, with the largest drop in muscle strength and continued pain for an average of three days.
- Those who received either immediate heat (heat wraps) or immediate cold (cold packs) on the exercised area had a much smaller drop in strength loss and less pain.
- Later heat treatment, after 24 hours, had little effect, but later cold treatment helped somewhat.
So there you have it! Ice packs applied for 20 minutes immediately following a hard exercise, and used 24 hours later, will reduce pain and maintain strength for the duration of the DOMS.
Yes, we’ve always had ice packs in the studio 😉