It’s a debate as old as the first Olympics: Is ice the best way to treat sore muscles after exercise?
A new review of various studies has found the answer is yes -- cold-water baths can indeed reduce muscle soreness. But there’s a caveat: Researchers did not compare ice baths to heat or other remedies.
According to a new review conducted by University of Ulster researchers, icing muscles after an intense workout is better than doing nothing – reducing soreness by about 20 percent.
To reach their conclusions, scientists examined 17 small studies -- involving 366 people -- of the benefits of cold-water baths, where water temperatures ranged from 50 to 59 degrees.
“There was some evidence that cold-water immersion reduces delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise compared with passive interventions involving rest or no intervention,” they said in findings published in The Cochrane Library maintained by the Cochrane Collaborative research organization. “There was insufficient evidence to conclude on other outcomes or for other comparisons.”
They added that more research is needed to determine whether other techniques, such as hot baths, are equally effective, better or worse.