Ice or Heat at Post Workout?
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It may seem like everyone has their take on post-workout therapy. The question centers on if after a long training session, we should be using ice or heat to help calm our bodies and promote quality recovery.
The short answer is that both have their benefits. It is important to understand why both hot therapy and cold therapy could help in the muscle growth and recovery part of your fitness plan.
Using warm compresses and heat wraps in post workouts can provide benefits and relief to sore muscles. Often people have a hot tub soak after a challenging workout. Keeping the muscles warmer post-workout can help stimulate blood circulation and assist in getting nutrients to travel throughout the blood and get to where they need to go.
Heat treatments can also aid in fighting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and help us avoid becoming too tight and restricted. When building muscle and staying on a routine, pain can sometimes hinder us from increasing weight usage and making gains in our workout, so keeping our bodies feeling good is vital.
Not too long-ago ice treatments were thought to be used only in injury circumstances. Using cold can help our bodies in other ways as well. During intense training sessions, lactate builds in our muscles and can block pathways in our blood and prevent muscle groups from receiving proper replenishment.
While heat does increase blood circulation (as mentioned above), cold therapy treatments reduce swelling and lower lactate levels to allow our bodies to feast on what we pump back into it.
While both ice therapy and heat therapy have benefits to our muscles, there are things to be on the lookout for and rules to make sure we follow. Using extreme temperature environments like saunas and steam rooms can increase dehydration levels and put us in possibly dangerous conditions. Be smart and avoid extreme heats after workouts, where we have already lost a significant amount of sweat.
Ice helps acute injuries and soreness but can lock us up and prevent us from being able to maximize stretching of the muscles and joints. When trying to bulk up and increase muscle growth and mass, stretching is a vital step to remain functional, and applying too much ice for too long of a time can hinder that process.