What are the benefits of using ice for recovery? I have heard that you should not use ice, if the goal is to recover faster.
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migrated from sports.stackexchange.com Aug 25 '14 at 16:02
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The jury is currently out, so the best answer right now is either "it depends" or "we don't know".
The common lore is that it does three things
Studies on the subject have been mixed. One study on cyclists doing stage races (high intensity efforts over several consecutive days) showed increased recovery and benefits, another study on weightlifters reported increased second day pain.
There hasn't been a conclusive study one way or the other yet, so what I would do is find any studies done on icing and your particular sport, and/or try it out yourself to see how it works for you.
My n=1 is that I used it quite extensively when rehabbing a ruptured Achille's, and it helped a lot with keeping swelling down and high mobility following sessions.
The only studies I've seen not in support of icing injuries typically are inconclusive, but the other side of the coin is that there is documented and anecdotal evidence in favor. A 2001 study states:
That's important, because "icing the injury" isn't simply about putting ice on it all the time. The current advice I operate under is to ice sprains and strains as much as you can in the first 48 hours after an injury, for roughly ten minutes (not exceeding 15), and re-applying after the area has achieved normal body temperature.
A lot of the studies I read seem to indicate that there simply aren't good double blind peer reviewed looks at cryotherapy.
The goal, as to your question, is to reduce inflammation and ease pain. As referenced by the NIH: