Just say no to Ice and other forms of cryotherapy

In sport, in post-workout or post-injury, swelling/inflammation is -not- your enemy, and ice is -not- your friend.
Just say no to ice baths and other forms of “cryotherapy”. Been against this stuff since I saw the first studies on it in the late 1980’s when one of my former high school runners was at University Of Texas where the women’s track program was using it. Data showing damage to motor nerves in the area around muscle. Its now an obsession across many sports, especially college and pro football. Whether its application of an ice pack, bag of ice, pack of frozen vegetables, or a full scale limb or body submersion in an ice bath……contrary to popular belief, swelling and inflammation is -not- your enemy.

The immune system drives workout “recovery” processes. Doing stuff that screws with that makes no sense.
Doing stuff that shuts down local anabolic [tissue building and repair] substances and hormones makes no sense.
Doing stuff that impairs recovery and/or adaptations to training and then saying that it improves same, makes no sense.
The human species didn’t appear on earth yesterday afternoon. We know something about how human cells function.
Don’t be do’in this crap for years, sabotaging your own advancement in your sport, and then claim that the reason you decided to take steroids is because that was your only way forward. Be a jock -not- a dumb jock.
Follow the data, not the crowd.


“….cold water immersion is widely used by athletes for recovery. This study examined the physiological merit of cold water immersion for recovery from high-intensity exercise by investigating if the placebo effect is responsible for any acute performance or psychological benefits.”

“30 males performed an acute high-intensity interval training session, comprised of 4 × 30-seconds sprints, immediately followed by one of the following three 15-min recovery conditions: cold water immersion(10.3°C), thermoneutral water immersion placebo (34.7°C), or thermoneutral water immersion control (34.7°C).”

“A recovery placebo administered after an acute high-intensity interval training session….is as effective as cold water immersion. This can be attributed to improved ratings of readiness for exercise, pain, and vigor, suggesting that the commonly hypothesized physiological benefits surrounding cold water immersion are at least partly placebo related.”

J.R.Broatch, A.Petersen, D.J.Bishop

Postexercise Cold Water Immersion Benefits Are Not Greater than the Placebo Effect

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise — Volume 46 #11 — November 2014 — page 2139

“We evaluated the effect of cold ice-pack application following a brief sprint-interval training on the balance between anabolic mediators [growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-I, testosterone], catabolic markers (cortisol, IGFBP-1, and circulating pro [Interlukin-6 and IL-1β]- and anti-inflammatory cytokines [IL-1 receptor antagonist].”

“Twelve males, elite junior handball players performed 4 × 250 m treadmill run, at 80% of each individual’s maximal speed, followed by a rest period with and without local cold-pack application.”

“Local cold-pack application was associated with significant decreases in IL-1β, IL-1ra, IGF-I, and IGFBP-3 and a greater increase of IGFBP-1 during recovery.”

“Local ice therapy immediately following sprint-interval training was associated with greater decreases….anabolic hormones supporting some clinical evidence for possible negative effects on athletic performance.”
D.Nemet, et al
Effect of local cold-pack application on systemic anabolic and inflammatory response to sprint-interval training: a prospective comparative trial
European Journal of Applied Physiology…..Volume 107 #4….November 2009….page 411 – 417

“Several studies analyzed the effectiveness of cold-water immersion to support recovery after strenuous exercise, but the overall results seem to be conflicting. Most of these studies analyzed only short-term recovery effects, whereas the adaptational aspect has been widely neglected.”

“Therefore, we analyzed the effects of repeated cooling after training sessions on adaptations to strength training.”

“Cooling consisted of 3…4-minute intervals with a 30-second rest period.” The other leg was not cooled.”

“Long-term strength training adaptations in trained subjects can be negatively affected by cold-water immersion. However, effects were small, and the practical relevance relative to possible recovery effects needs to be considered in a sports practical setting.”
M.Fröhlich, et al
Strength Training Adaptations After Cold-Water Immersion
Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research….Volume 28 #9…September 2014…page 2628 – 2633

“When ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period, nearby lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase their permeability (lymphatic vessels are ‘dead-end’ tubes which ordinarily help carry excess tissue fluids back into the cardiovascular system).”

“As lymphatic permeability is enhanced, large amounts of fluid begin to pour from the lymphatics ‘in the wrong direction’ (into the injured area), increasing the amount of local swelling and pressure and potentially contributing to greater pain.”
The use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injuries……Sports Medicine….Volume 3…..1986….page 398 – 414


“The use of ice or cryotherapy in the management of acute soft tissue injuries is widely accepted and widely practiced. This review was conducted to examine the medical literature to investigate if there is evidence to support an improvement in clinical outcome following the use of ice or cryotherapy.”
“Six relevant trials in humans were identified, four of which lacked randomization and blinding. There were two well conducted randomized controlled trials, one showing supportive evidence for the use of a cooling gel and the other not reaching statistical significance.”
“Four animal studies showed that modest cooling reduced edema but excessive or prolonged cooling is damaging. There were two systematic reviews, one of which was inconclusive and the other suggested that ice may hasten return to participation.”
“There is insufficient evidence to suggest that cryotherapy improves clinical outcome in the management of soft tissue injuries.”
Is Ice Right? Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcome for Acute Soft Tissue Injury?
Journal of Emergency Medicine….February 25, 2008…..page 65 – 68