Post-exercise practices are known to be vital in the health and performance of athletes and weekend warriors alike. Sheilamary Koch published an article regarding new studies found about cool down practices.
“Cooling down is [. . .] quite important to prevent the muscles from contracting and to help release uric acid build-up that leads to soreness. These practices should involve slowly reducing heart rate and breathing back to normal and stretching muscles.”
However, other common practices used by professional athletes after a grueling competitive events such as icing and anti-inflammatory painkillers have been brought into question by a series of recent studies, according to another NYT article.
Taking an ice bath is a popular practice thought to help reduce muscular inflammation and aid in more rapid recovery. Psychologically, cooling may reduce pain by numbing nerve sensors so the athlete doesn’t feel the soreness. But studies do not show a reduction in inflammation at the cellular level due to cooling. Painkillers have also been shown to neither shorten recovery time nor alleviate soreness in overworked muscles.”
An ice bath often feels amazing. The body may feel a bit numb, and the pain often seems to subside after 15 minutes in the ice bath. This study, however, show that there it does not truly help the inflammation at a cellular level.
“On the contrary, warming the muscles along with ingesting increased carbohydrates does seem to reduce tension at the muscular level. In a study published in Physiology Today by Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute, participants were given an intense arm-pedaling workout designed to exhaust the muscles in their arms.
In the first session, this was followed by consumption of carbohydrate-loaded snacks. In the second session, the eating was the same, but the arm was placed in a cuff set to about 100 degrees for two hours. In the third session, the arm was cooled instead of warmed in the cuff.
After all three of these sessions, participants returned to complete another interval of exercise. According to the researchers, all the men and women in the study pedaled the hardest and fastest after having the muscle heated while ingesting carbohydrates. On the contrary, the session that showed the lowest-power output was when the arm was cooled.”
The title of this post jokes about being able to eat pizza and sit in a Jacuzzi to help after a run or hard workout, but that may not be far from the truth. The study referred to found that pairing carb-loaded snacks with heating the muscles targeted in the workout gave the best results during the next exercise session.
“Given that subsequent research with mice showed that simple warming had no effect, the scientists concluded that “warming the muscles probably aids in recovery by augmenting the muscles’ uptake of carbohydrates.
While these new studies strongly suggest that warming and carbs make a better choice than ice and ibuprofen, rest and time are still considered the most tried-and-true method for recuperation and reducing soreness.”
If you are able, take the time to rest in order to get the best results. However, if your exercise program calls for safely working out several days in a row, eating carbs and warming is a more effective recovery than icing and taking painkillers. As always, pay attention to your body, notice how different recoveries help your body bounce back. Ask your physical therapist if you need more help. Properly cooling down is important in staying safe and improving, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Original Article: http://exclusive.multibriefs.com