Ice Bath or Massage Therapy You Choose?

Ice Bath or Massage Therapy You Choose?

You have worked too hard, or worked out too hard, your muscles are sore, what do you do next? A long, hot bath is something you may look forward to in order to relax tight muscles, relieve stress and pain or is a cold shower?

Not all fitness experts race to jump into a hot bath or hot tub to sore their achy joints. Some experts such as Marty Jaramillo, CEO of the I.C.E. Sports Health Group, recommends taking an ice cold bath in order to numb really sore muscles. Soreness happens when lactic acid and other wastes collect in your muscles through your blood vessels. Cold water temperatures constrict blood vessels as opposed to dilating them to reduce pain. Taking a cold bath can be challenging, but try to use the coldest temperature you can tolerate. You can even add a bag or two of ice into the tub if desired.

Initially, a cold compress or cold bath will help numb your back and relieve pain. Days after your injury or workout, you may choose a hot bath for your muscle aches; the heat will penetrate and relax muscles, reducing the risk for spasms. A hot bath also reduces stress levels all over your body. You may not realize it but when you have muscle soreness in one area, the surrounding areas may tense up from working harder to compensate for the sore, weak muscle groups. The bath can relax the muscles and prepare them for stretching and your next workout.
When you exercise, your blood vessels open wider and stay that way for at least an hour afterward. Soreness occurs when waste products like lactic acid settle in your muscles through these dilated vessels. Colder temps constrict vessels, limiting the amount of waste product that accumulates, explains Jaramillo.

Cool the Pain

  • If you’re feeling brave, fill your tub halfway with cold water and add a bucket of ice cubes.
  • Gradually submerge your body into the water to your waist.
  • Don’t submerge your chest; the extreme temperature could cause injury.
  • Work up to soaking for 30 seconds to one minute

When does the warm or hot bath come in? After a therapeutic massage.  Here is an excerpt from “How Massage Heals Sore Muscles”

They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.

Dr. Tarnopolsky suggests that, in the long run, a professional massage may even be a better bargain than a pill. “If someone says “This is free and it might make you feel better, but it may slow down your recovery, do you still want it?” he asked. “Or would you rather spend the 50 bucks for a post-exercise massage that also might enhance your recovery?” read full article on NYtimes.com

warm bath after massage helpsI often recommend taking a Hot Epsom salt Bath after a massage because of several factors. One I have moved a lot of metabolic waste as I manipulated the muscle tissues. Drinking water will help flush these toxins out as well.

This all helps to relieve pain. In your bathtub, you can add certain ingredients that may also help relax muscles. Consider adding sea salts or Epsom salts to your bath – this will help reduce swelling and calm your central nervous system. You may also want to use essential oils that can help relax you and help sore muscle groups such as eucalyptus, bergamot and lavender. These ingredients are often used in massage therapy as well.

Having a massage, especially a deep tissue massage, is a form of passive exercise, as hard as that may be to believe, and you need to take care of yourself as if you have just exercised.  You don’t want to ruin that relaxed high you’re on right now, do you?

Comments

  1. This is so true. I remember in high school (a loooong time ago) seeing the cross country runners sitting in front of their lockers in the hallway rubbing ice or cold packs on their legs after their training session. I always thought it was weird since all we see on television are commercials promoting Ben Gay or A535 for sore muscles. Now thinking back it does make sense to use ice or cold packs.

Love to hear what you think

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