Ice-baths can do more harm than good, say scientists

Friday, November 5, 2010

LONDON - A new study has suggested that ice-baths can actually do more harm than good.

The agonisingly cold dips are a popular way for athletes to finish their training as they help the body to return to normal after a workout.

The theory is that the icy water causes the blood in tired legs to recede. When the legs warm up again they are filled with “new” oxygenated blood, which invigorates the muscles.

However, scientists at the English Institute of Sport said the practice can also limit the growth and strengthening of muscle fibres, which is a key goal of training.

“Long-term use of the strategy could be detrimental to performance,” the Daily Mail quoted physiologist Jonathan Leeder as saying.

So while it may be beneficial for elite athletes during a competition, Leeder said it shouldn’t be promoted during training. The finding will be a relief to rugby players who regularly indulge in the freezing activity.

For years people have put a packet of frozen veg on a torn or sprained muscle to reduce the swelling.

However, scientists from the Neuroinflammation Research Centre at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, found a hormone produced by inflamed tissue that could help heal damaged muscle.

The study was published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal.

“For wounds to heal we need controlled inflammation, not too much, and not too little,” editor Gerald Weissmann, said of the paper. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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