Is an ice pack or toasty bath best for pos­tex­er­cise pain? Check out our ther­mother­apy spec­trum to bring on the much-needed ahhs.

Women's Health Australia - - DISCUSS -

Hot bath

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.

Ice pack

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.

Frosty tub

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.

Heat­ing pad

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.

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