RUNNING HOT & COLD
Is an ice pack or toasty bath best for postexercise pain? Check out our thermotherapy spectrum to bring on the much-needed ahhs.
A soak after endurance exercise (say, a marathon) can help your muscles regain strength faster, says a new study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The theory: heat helps your muscles utilise carbs afterwards (as fuel), speeding up repair.
Best for immediate post-exercise throbs or minor injuries, the frozen stuff can reduce swelling and numb pain in a localised spot – especially a joint such as the knee, hip or ankle. Apply within 30 mins; remove after 15, then repeat.
For intense workouts only (sprints, Crossfit). The ice moves blood to your core to keep your organs warm. When you get out, blood flows extra hard back to your extremities, promoting healing. Aim for 15 total mins in three-min intervals.
Chronic muscle aches, meet your match. A warming wrap boosts circulation and feels more soothing than ice on an area that cramps or flares up regularly (eg, hammies or lower back) during or after activity. Use for 15–30 mins at a time.