top of page


Old thoughts use to say RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) when an acute injury ex. ankle sprain struck. This gave the impression that a good ole ice pack would solve the injury, but as evidence has grown the new motto has become PEACE (protect, elevate, avoid anti-inflammatories, compression, and education) & LOVE. But what about Cold Water Immersion (CWI)? and should we start incorporating CWI as a recovery modality?

First off, this is not sticking on an ice pack…this is drenching the body into a nice 10 ˚C (50 ˚F) bath for 10-15 minutes 🥶. Think you can hang?

The way it aids is through:
  • Vasoconstriction (blood vessel constriction)= Temporarily reducing blood flow and in turn reducing edema and some inflammatory activity. 

  • Analgesia (pain relieving) = Since the effect of cold water leads to a decreased nerve conduction this dampens the speeds and excitability of the nerves and the perception of pain. 

  • Placebo effect= The belief effect has power! Just believing it’s going to work holds its own to feeling better. 🧠

  • Hydrostatic pressure= The buoyancy properties of submersion can aid again in swelling management due to increasing venous blood flow return and potentially accelerating metabolite elimination.


With all that said, who wouldn't want to reduce their muscle soreness and swelling! Less discomfort is always a good thing right?

Good news for the running population & endurance athletes since current research suggests that if you’re using this for recovery, it doesn’t seem to impede adaptations or affect performance. Other findings indicate that it may actually assist athletes who sometimes need to train or compete twice within the same day since it is in such a quick timeframe.


Where the water gets murky is when attempting to hypertrophy 💪🏼 or grow the muscles. If we shunt blood flow to the muscles, this may not help in maximizing the gains.


↪️Keep in mind:

  1. The studies that have said no post weights or resistance training have individuals hopping in a cold tub within a 15 minute window directly following the resistance training.

  2. We do not have research on what lengthening the time post lift to jump into a cold bath would look like.

  3. Possibly picking CWI days that are more skill driven and endurance focused can help to decrease your worries 🤯 that you’ll shrivel up and become weak!

Since recovery is crucial for many of us, adding in this adjunct as a recovery option wouldn't be a bad idea to overall just feeling better. Just put in a little consideration to what current evidence shows and what type of training regimen you are embarking on!  


-Dr. Anna

50 views0 comments


bottom of page