In the world of sports, bodies take a beating. In response there are lots of methods to ward off the soreness that follows. One of the most popular treatments to prevent muscle soreness is an ice bath. As a runner, this is a very common suggestion given to deal with the wicked pain that follows a marathon. Recently, however, the effectiveness of ice baths was questioned.
Chris Bleakley headed a study regarding ice baths and their effectiveness. Bleakley is an author and researcher at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Essentially, the research concluded that cyrotherapy has very little quality research behind it to back its validity and effectiveness.
In the study, people were asked to get into a cold water bath that was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit after they exercised. The participants stayed in the bath from anywhere between five and 24 minutes. Bleakley found that the participants experienced less soreness over the next four days, but he admitted, “it’s purely a subjective feeling of less soreness.”
Bleakley also pointed out that other treatments may be just as effective, referring to massage, stretching, and regular water immersion.
Perhaps ice baths are a chilly waste of time. The study points to this being a possibility. However, when it comes to a marathon and an endurance runner, the belief in ice bath effectiveness seems to be the standard.
If you’ve never had a massage by a licensed massage therapist before, let me tell you something: You are missing out. Massage therapy is fantastic for exercisers as it can help keep your muscles flexible, reduce soreness and even improve your mobility and range of motion. It is also the perfect reward for a few solid weeks of eating right and moving more!
The first time I got a massage, I was excited, but really nervous about what to expect and what to do. So I put together a list of seven tips to get the most out of a massage, be it deep tissue, sports or just a basic Swedish treatment. These tips are geared to first-timers, but it’s also a great refresher for those who visit a massage therapist often!
Two recent studies show that eating ginger after you work out can ease muscles soreness the following day. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds and volatile oils called gingerols that have been shown to have analgesic and sedative effects in animals. Researchers have now examined the effects in humans.
One study gave examined participants who did exercises designed to cause muscle pain over 11 days. Some of the participants where given raw ginger supplements, some heat-treated ginger supplements, and some a placebo. Both groups taking the ginger supplements reported less muscle pain. They conclude, “This study demonstrates that daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury.”
Remember a few years ago when pomegranate juice was all the rage? Well, it seems as though there may be a new super-food fruit juice in town: tart cherry juice.
Makers of tart cherry juice claim that the drink can do everything from help with wrinkles, insomnia, headaches, swelling, puffiness around the eyes and — most importantly for exercisers — increase muscle recovery time. Manufacturers say that tart cherry juice is high in the antioxidant vitamin E, along with melatonin, vitamin A and beta carotene.
While there hasn’t been that much independent research on the juice, one study published in the online version of the British Journal of Sports Medicine evaluated whether or not a highly-concentrated, specially-processed tart cherry juice blend could prevent the symptoms of muscle damage in a 14 male college students. The study participants were asked to either drink a bottle of the cherry juice blend twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days afterwards, or to drink a placebo juice containing no cherries. The 12-ounce bottle of juice contained the liquid equivalent of 50 to 60 tart cherries blended with commercially available apple juice (from all the cherry juice blends on the market, this is a pretty typical blend, I’ve found).