Recover Faster: Simple Cold Therapy Techniques | STACK

Recover Faster: Simple Cold Therapy Techniques

September 1, 2010 | Featured in the September, 2010 Issue

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Is cold therapy a waste of time? The world’s top athletes don’t think so. Everyone from LeBron James to Chad Ochocinco uses ice and cold therapy daily to speed the healing process and reduce tightness, bruises, soreness and pain.

A study in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that athletes who applied ice or cold therapy after intense physical activity had less joint stiffness and lactic acid build up than athletes who had no therapy.

These recovery benefits stem from the body’s natural response to cold temperature. When an area is chilled, blood vessels constrict and nerves become numb, thus reducing blood flow and pain. Cold application also relieves swelling and inflammation by restricting the stream of blood and other fluid that build up around an injury. When normal body temperature is restored, new blood rushes in and flushes out toxins that inhibit efficient recovery. Damaged tissue then quickly repairs itself, diminishing any remaining soreness.

Using ice or cold therapy on a daily basis helps your body repair itself for the next time you step on the field. Follow these guidelines to reap the full recovery benefits:

- Use an ice bath immediately after competition or intense workout. Fill a bathtub with cold water and add one or two five-pound bags of ice so the temperature is 54 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Stay in the bath for approximately 10 minutes, and follow up with a warm shower 30 to 60 minutes afterward.

- To reduce inflammation and pain, place an ice bag or pack on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour. Continue icing for 48 hours or until inflammation or pain subsides.

- Place a thin towel around the ice if the cold temperature becomes painful.

- Don’t ice more than recommended, because frostbite can occur.

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

An Injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, was once a career ending injury. Thankfully, we now see instances where athletes recover from ACL...

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Basketball Prehab: Exercises for 4 Trouble Spots

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Train With Shin Splints

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Where The Best Athletes Get Better

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

How to Work Out When You Suffer From Leg Pain or Injury

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet