T Nation

Ice Ice Baby


Had a good workout today @ the gym. Came home and iced the muscles. I remember once reading about a cryo-cup on here. I did the home-aide version. Cut a water bottle in half, put some water in it. Took it out of the fridge a couple hours later and massaged the muscles. Works pretty good. Much better then just putting a pack of ice over the muscles.

Anyone else ice?
How often and whats your duration.

Would love to hear your experiances.


Use Dixie/paper cups. No sharpe edges. I've only used it when I had shin issues.


If this is not an "injury", you have the potential of INCREASING recovery time by decreasing blood flow to the area...which is what you don't want.


How would ice decrease blood flow to the area?

I've used homemade "cryocups" made from dixie cups with good results. Charles Staley recommends using them immediately post workout in his EDT program for arms, don't know if there is any difference in using ice several hours later.


Why do you think ice is used in the medical field post-injury? To reduce swelling. How does it reduce swelling? By reducing blood flow. Less blood moves through colder temperatures. Vasoconstriction occurs.

I have trained my arms quite well for several years and never felt the need to ice them. It doesn't make any sense from a health care stand point and even less in terms of enducing recovery. Less blood flow would equal less nutrients reaching muscle tissue. That intramuscular inflammatory response may very well be what helps initiate further growth in the area.


Ice does limit blood flow to the area, the same way as it reduces swelling when a body part is injured. I can get technical if you would like. DASTANG.....a combat medic who deals with this alot!!!

On the other hand I have never heard of using cups to help massage and ice....I like!


What about contrast showers?


Many believe that by alternating between cold and hot water showers you can stimulate a circulatory "massage". This only means that some believe that this vasoconstriction/vasodilation reponse can actually cause more nutrients to reach body tissues. I personally don't agree with that because warm temperatures should do this alone assuming a person is in good health. A further risk is in the elderly who, through vasodilation in a shower, could actually experience potential heart failure if they are prone to it. This has happened at a gym in Houston before after an older gentlemen finished training. CSI did an episode on this as well.


A contrast shower/bath is just that, contrasting between hot and cold, not just cold. By alternating constriction and dilation a greater volume of blood is moved into the area.

For this thread, how about alternating ice massage with either hot-water submersion or showering to aid recovery?


Yeah, Prof. I guess I had in my head that a cold temp in the muscle would increase blood flow, but I wasn't even thinking about the whole icing to reduce swelling thing...Guess I have a case of the Mondays :wink:

I hadn't heard of cryotherapy after a workout before CS mentioned it in EDT. Don't know the science behind it. Maybe it is something he observed to be effective empirically.


I use ice for specific injuries but not for just everyday recovery. CT has recommended it a couple times for various workouts and specific uses (his Max Bench workout used it for something ?) Here's a couple links to studies done on ice and ice/heat. A little involved but has some good info.


(Hmmmmmm.....this link doesn't work completely so if you go here use the search box in the upper right, keywords "The use of ice in the treatment" and you'll see the study.)

Ice and heat link:

See ya,



I guess each can take what they want out of this topic. Each can have their own believe. Whos right or whos wrong? Who cares? Lets share our ideas and experiances? Science is good on paper, but not always the great in practical life. Not sayinh this to start a war, but to get each person to try this out and make their own valid decision.

Yes I do agree if you ice the muscle you will constrict arterial flow, which will reduce nutrients in and out, also lactic acid build-up. So ice is bad? In this sense, yeah... probally.

Here's what I did. I did my workout, not holding back. I increased my weight on my bicep routine and on all my exercises per that workout. I came home and did a contrast shower for a good 15 mins. When the warm water was on the muscle I stretched em. I got out of the shower and immediately placed 2 big bags of ice over both biceps for 20 mins. Every 60 mins. I re-iced the biceps, alternating between ice bags to compress, and ice cups ( like cyro cup ) massage for 20 minutes. I did this approx. 5 times yesterday to the biceps only.

Todays results....

Biceps have no soreness whatsoever! Tri-ceps are sore ( and I didnt even directly work them ), chest is tight and sore. Is this valid proof? Nope. Do I think it worked... possibly. Biceps could be sore tomorow or 2 days after. Time will tell.

Why did I choose my biceps? Because last time I trained them they screamed bloody murder for 5 days after. So naturally, with increasing the weight and prioritizing them, I would think they woudl hurt too....


So what do you think about Waterbury's new article ProfX?


I have experimented alot with contrast showeres and they have worked the best for me when i take them after max effort upper body days.

The next day my triceps and chest are barely sore at all.


Initially when you apply the ice, the body will respond by sending more blood to the area to keep body temp. constant. Removing the ice will prevent the body from stopping blood flow and causing frostbite. When the ice is removed the body will continue to icrease blood flow. The contrast is similar to the training/recovery relationship.

In general, I find ice speeds up the recovery aspect and if I suspect sore muscles I will definitely ice the body part.

On a hot day put your feet in a tub of cold water and watch how cool the whole body feels. I know heat rises. Just do it anyways. It works.



If this were true, there would be no use for ice to reduce swelling after injury. It's not true.


I haven't read it.


1.Exactly what is or causes swelling?

  1. What happens when the swelling is reduced?



Prof X is right. Pretty much the only time applying cold will cause vasodialation is during Hunting's Response. This is an extreme case when a peripheral body part has been exposed to such an extreme cold over a prolonged period of time that the body reacts with vasodialation in that area to attempt to prevent the body from freezing.


And the answer to the 2 questions?

Are you saying that the application of cold for a short duration will slow down blood circulation to the area?

All total that's 3 questions. Hope I'm not over my limit, but I come here to learn.