T Nation

Need Help Healing?


I read a bit about hot and cold water therapy and have experimented with it over the past several years on and off. However, recently I have been diligently performing hot and cold immediately, or soon after (same day) a strenuous session with the weights.

What I have experienced has been fantastic! I have been wrestling with a minor shoulder injury and noticed that everytime I did hot and cold on the same day I trained with weights there was zero pain the next day. Everytime I skipped the protocol below, I had pain.

I concluded after this happened over and over again that it was the water therapy which made the difference. I was not eating, or supplementing any different. Nor was I doing anything else differently.

To those of you who might be struggling with your own injury you might want to give it a shot. I know that as we age while we can still be a terror in the weight room injuries do not heal as fast as they used to. I have noticed that this one protocol has really leveled the playing field once again. (I also take many supplements which assist in this area-but the water therapy has been rather dramatic)

The way I did it was not at all elaborate or time consuming. I have been training where I have access to a pool and a hot tub. I can't personally vouch for it working in a shower, however it may.

Very simple:

10 minutes in the pool soaking up to your neck. The pool I used was about 83 degrees (not all that cold). Then 8 minutes in a hot tub (with jets) the tub is on 105 degrees. Then another 5 minutes in the pool and I'm finished.

That is a total of 23 minutes well spent for me.

If anyone gives it a try let me know how it works out for you. There is so much bull that passes as credible information regarding injuries that I wanted to share something with you guys that I found works incredibly well for me.

All The Best,



Sounds like a good tip Zeb.

I'm curious about whether or not this is as easy as turning the hot water tap this way and that during a shower...



That sounds interesting and I'm going to have access to a pool where I train pretty soon so I'm going to give it a try. However, it doesn't seem like 83 degrees is cold enough does it? It sounds more like warm/hot therapy to me. But hey, if it works that's great!


I thought the exact same thing!

But, it is still 15 degrees cooler than you body. That might just be enough to obtain the health benefits. I tried it with the shower every day I have trained since I posted the above and it has worked just as well.


Hot/cold therapy is a method that does work well for many people. I would caution everyone about the "cold" immersion of a body part however. If your skin temp decreases to 50 degrees F you may get what is called the Hunting reaction. Your brain thinks that the extremity is freezing so it causes a cyclical dilation of the blood vessels. This may actually cause an increase in swelling.

There are studies that dispute the Hunting reaction (Knight 1985), but most treatment protocols take it into account. So, a good rule of thumb is not to immerse a body part in water colder than 59 degrees F, or place an ice pack on an area longer than 30min.


I wonder if ice massage and hot shower would have the same effect? I think I'll try that regardless. I did something to my back that just won't friggin' heal and I'm willing to experiment on myself.


You probably hurt it doing all of those joke posters on that other thread :slight_smile:

By the way, nice jobover there.


I was told by a therapist I respect that the rule of thumb for ice packing was 15 min for an extremity and 20 min for the torso.


I have never done less than 20 min. for an extremity. Often times it was 30 min. I've never had any complications.


Zeb - nice topic.

I've used cold/hot for years now on sprained ankles. I play a fair amount of basketball and it happens every now and then.

For ankle sprains, I use a bucket full of ice water. 20 minutes in, 20 minutes out for 3 cycles and I do that at least 3 times a day (morning, lunch, evening) for the first couple of days.

Once the swelling has decreased I go to the hot and cold baths. 5 minutes in hot (as a move my foot around) followed by 5 minutes in cold for an hour a day. I do this for the next couple of days.

On the fifth or sixth day - depending on how the ankle feels - I start walking as normal as I can. That is, I try to walk without a limp, etc.

What used to take months to get my ankle back in full motion without pain now takes weeks.



Very interesting post.

Hot and cold remedies are not promoted enough. I think part of the reason is that there is no way for anyone to make any money talking about it. Water is basically free.

I know that sounds cynical to some of our younger members. But when you want answers to why seemingly simple and cost effective methodologies are not being promoted it usually comes down to money.

The bottom line is that these things work and work quite well!

Thanks again for your personal testimony.


Interesting. I have read about this before, in Playboy many years ago. (Yes I read the articles.) It said a similar treatment was developed by circus performers when they got injured. They needed a quick recovery because of they didn't work, they didn't eat.

I don't know the exact protocol, but it was switching between heat and ice repeatedly. I know the times were not the same and both were shorter then 10 minutes.

Anyway there is info online about contrast baths, and alternating heat cold treatments for injuries.

Anyway this makes sense applied to exercise. I will give it a try.


I severed a vein when I cracked my hip while in college and had a pool of blood all the way down the back of my leg. The treatment was 5 min in ice bath then 5 min in 104 degree whirlpool for 30 mins total each day for a week or two. Most painful thing I have done in my life. It worked to break up the clot but for all I know it would have done that on it's own...


I'm curious as to who recommended that routine?


Hey Vroom, I'm gonna pass on the cold shower. (Significant Shrinkage!) But I'm thinking about Icing my shoulder down and then doing a hot shower and then ice. I'll make you a deal, you let me know if the shower works and I'll let you know on the icebag/shower. If anyone else has tried this, I'd be interested in knowing. I don't have pool/whirlpool access.


ive recently started taking ice baths. i put the water as cold as it will go in the tub, then dump a bunch of ice in there (probably like 55 degrees). its bloody wonderful for my recovery, adn i strongly suggest it to anyone who has the time.

ive been thinking of trying something different. i have 3 bathrooms in my house, and i can use 2 of them whenever i want, so ill have 1 hot and 1 cold tub. anyway:

5 minutes cold(no ice)
10 minutes hot(like 105, with epsom salt)
8 minutes cold(with ice)

well, ill give it a go and tell you how it works.


I have also made good use of "contrast" showers (hydrotherapy) for the past several years - it helped me heal a serious hip injury after a motorcycle accident. Not to mention it makes you feel great.

I would rotate 1 minute hot/1 minute cold for around 10 minutes or so - I used to go to the very coldest setting on the faucet - great in the summer, but pretty tough in the middle of winter where I live.

I then read an article - sorry can't remember the source - that said you don't have to go very cold or very hot, but just get some variation in temperature. Now I am more moderate on the temp change in the winter - but still find it to be a great recuperation tool.

Also, I frequently make use of alternating 20 minutes ice with 20 minutes of heat pad for all sorts of injuries and it is pretty close to a miraculous cure in some cases. I learned about this therapy from the book "Back to Eden" which will take some of you back to the day...lol :wink:.

"He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might He increaseth strength"


Great topic and responses! I used to be a big advocate of ice however not many can tolerate the pain. However a pool "session" is very doable for most and I feel that just wading around in the pool for 15-25 minutes has done wonders for the muscles and joints.

What I also like to do is go over to the jet where the water is recirculated and have it dig into my sore and aching joints and muscles. I guess my overall experience is that I believe that water by itself is quite therapeutic. Many believe that the water has to be cold or hot, which can definitely work as well but I feel that they provide different results.


Personally I love the sauna as a post workout restorer. Shower (normal) followed by dry sauna (hot) or wet sauna (hotter), in turn followed by shower (cooooollllllld). Does wonders for this 50-year old body. Do not lie down afterwards as you might easily wake up 4 hours later.