Photo by Ben Draper
Achy muscles are the worst, and we’ve tried almost everything — including heat and ice — to get rid of them. Ice therapy, technically known as cryotherapy, seems to have more scientific support in its corner, though. Studies show that an ice bath that’s at least 5 minutes long can reduce muscle soreness by up to 20 percent.
It’s important to remember, though, an ice bath won’t actually repair muscles any faster — so a lack of soreness doesn’t necessarily mean muscles don’t need time to repair. Heat, on the other hand, has much less scientific support behind it. Researchers are quick to point out that in addition to being sparse, the existing research is conflicting, too. One study found heat helped with back pain, while older studies warn it could actually increase recovery time from sports injuries.
The Takeaway: While heat may work for some pain, ice reigns supreme. Research shows an ice bath could actually lessen muscle pain after working out.
Work it Out
Stretching may not actually reduce muscle soreness. Here are 11 more myths about stretching!
Hot water can actually freeze faster than cold water.