They say athletes who immerse themselves in icy cold water are hindering long-term gains in muscle mass and strength and it would be better for them to “warm down” on an exercise bike.
Their 12-week study, involving 21 physically active men, shows that not only does cold-water immersion attenuate muscle adaptation, it also blunts the activation of key proteins and satellite cells in skeletal muscle up to two days after strength exercise.
Their advice to athletes is to stay clear of cold water, at least after strength training.
“The present findings contribute to an emerging theme that cold-water immersion and other strategies (e.g. antioxidant supplements, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that are intended to mitigate and improve resilience to physiological stress associated with exercise may actually be counter-productive to muscle adaptation,” write the researchers in The Journal of Physiology.
The research report, published in The Journal of Physiology, may be found by following this link: Post-exercise cold water immersion attenuates acute anabolic signalling and long-term adaptations in muscle to strength training
See also our May 2015 post about Why Ice Delays Recovery by Gabe Mirkin, MD, author of the best-selling 1978 Sportsmedicine Book, and creator of the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for the treatment of athletic injuries.