Q Ice pack or hot bath: which is better for post-workout pain?
Bubble bath worthy of a #selfcaresunday post? Or a tub colder than a death stare from Anne Robinson in her Weakest Link days? Using temperature to ease DOMS has become a hot topic – and not just for elite athletes. ‘If you’ve done endurance exercise – say, a marathon – research has found that soaking in comfortably steamy water will help your exhausted muscles regain strength more quickly,’ says exercise physiologist and trainer Pete Mccall. If you have an area that flares up regularly – your hamstrings or lower back, for example – he suggests a heated pad to improve circulation. But, for immediate post-exercise throbs, grab an ice pack, as this can reduce swelling and numb pain in localised spots – especially joints, such as the knee, hip or ankle. Just done a sprint session or a Crossfit class? Go ahead and turn on the cold tap. ‘For intense workouts, ice moves blood to the body’s centre to keep your organs warm,’ explains Mccall. ‘When you get out of the water, blood flows extra-hard back to your extremities, promoting healing.’ Aim for 15 minutes in total, in three-minute intervals. Brr-ill.
Running hot and cold