A review of studies into how a cold water plunge combats delayed onset muscle soreness – the stiffness and aches you get for a day or two after a game – has found there’s a more significant reduction in soreness for one to four days after a match if you take a cold bath.
More after the break
“For guys playing games close together, this is one potentially good, fast muscle recovery option that was found to reduce muscle soreness by up to 20 per cent,” study author and Ulster University sports scientist Dr Chris Bleakley tells FFT.
Dr Bleakley looked at over a dozen trials, mainly with young male athletes, and found that when compared to just resting after a game, players who got into a 60-degree Fahrenheit (10-15C) cold bath and stayed in it for at least five minutes reduced muscle soreness over the next four days.
A warning, though: “Take it gradually, with cool baths at first, before lowering the temperature,” advises Dr Bleakley. “A cool bath will come as a physiological shock to the system when you first jump in.”