How Long After Icing Can You Exercise (And Why)?

How Long After Icing Can You Exercise (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 to 4 Days

Icing your injury is one of the most commonly recommended treatments for an acute injury, but what about after that? 

The idea behind icing a muscle or joint to reduce inflammation helps bring down swelling and decreases pain. This means that if your ice immediately following the injury, then there should be no issue with exercising again shortly after. 

However, some research shows that those who had applied ice 24 hours before their workout session experienced less soreness than those who did not apply ice before exercising. 

If you are unclear on how long you should wait between icing and working out. But how long do you have to wait before exercising again? The answer is not so simple.

How Long After Icing Can You

How Long After Icing Can You Exercise?

Icing for 20 minutesPain will significantly reduce
Icing after 20 minutesCan’t jump or run with full strength

The short answer is 3-4 days, and that it needs to be done under doctor supervision. This is because ice reduces circulation and the amount of oxygen available for recovery, but it also has pain-relieving properties. 

It’s important to know that reducing inflammation through ice can lead to faster healing than resting alone. However, some swelling or muscle spasms may occur because the ice prevents movement in the area. A better long-term solution would be compression therapy.

Muscle soreness and stiffness result from a “chemical cocktail” released when you work out; icing could make things worse. And if your muscles can’t recover because you have constant icing on them, there’s no reason for anyone to do anything but sit around until the discomfort goes away. 

So stop it with the ice packs already and let your body heal itself. Any exercise after should take place 10 minutes post-icing regimen. Any muscle blood flow is re-established but not responsible for working through symptoms via increased inflammation from icing too or too soon after activity.


According to a study of the effects of icing sore muscles, it was determined that icing reduced pain in injured tissues. The studies on the overall impact of icing muscles are ongoing, but there is still much to be investigated.

 An ice bath can also help to decrease swelling from injuries, especially when accompanied by deep breathing exercises. However, according to research, ice treatments are not seen as a benefit at all, and the individual should only be icing if it is after strenuous exercise then returning.

Why Should You Wait So Long To Use Icing After Exercise?

Here are the reasons why:

  • “Icing,” in this case, is a term for icing your muscles, which means it would reduce stiffness after exercise.
  • Cold exposure slows your nerve impulses and blood flows. 
  • When icing after a long workout, you will need more recovery time from the exercise for the icing to recover correctly. This is due to slowed blood circulation and concentration of blood flow in areas that are heated up significantly enough for functional cooling purposes (hands and feet). 
  • A study published in Medicine Journal found that “patients who received whole-body cryotherapy experienced more adverse events” than those who did not receive cryotherapy.

This is significant because it is a well-controlled experimental setting where researchers can map any potential complications—which highlights just how risky this treatment is


If you notice for at least two hours post-workout, some of the “positive effects” of exercise are curtailed before they have time to take effect. So what good does it do to hurt yourself during the workout and then undo that on top of it? 

Studies have found cold therapy has been shown to decrease muscle soreness from training by over 40%, with ice treatment sessions lasting only 15 minutes. 

The frequency could be as often/long as every 4 hours. If an athlete feels stiffness immediately following exercise, they should ice the injury to reduce pain and swelling. However, it is best to heat up as blood flows better when heated in the hours after an injury.


Icing is a great way to reduce inflammation and pain after an injury, but what’s the best time frame for icing? The answer is not so straightforward.

 While there are no complex rules about how long you should ice your injury. It’s recommended that people take at least 3 to 4 days before returning to physical activity, even if they have significantly reduced their symptoms by using cold therapy. 

Doing this can help prevent frozen shoulders or other related injuries from occurring due to repetitive movement of the joints during exercise. So, don’t do too much too soon.  If you need any more information on when you’re ready to start running again following an injury or surgery, make sure to contact a healthcare professional.


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  1. As someone who values evidence-based information, this article has provided a comprehensive and well-reasoned analysis of the effects of icing. I appreciate the depth of insight it offers.

    1. This article provides a well-reasoned argument against excessive icing and has brought up compelling points about considering the impact on the recovery process. A thought-provoking read.

    2. The article’s emphasis on the importance of considering the timing of icing and its effects on recovery is highly informative. It challenges common assumptions and offers valuable guidance.

  2. This article raises an important question about the impact of icing on recovery and the potential drawbacks of excessive use of cold therapy. Valuable insights.

    1. I found this article to be very thought-provoking. It challenges some commonly held beliefs about recovery methods and provides a well-reasoned argument.

  3. The article presents a well-argued case against the excessive use of ice therapy for recovery. It’s a thought-provoking piece that encourages a reevaluation of common practices.

  4. I found the conclusion of this article particularly interesting. The timeframe recommended for returning to physical activity after using cold therapy raises important considerations for recovery.

    1. This article challenges traditional recovery methods and has made me think about the potential impact of icing on the recovery process. It’s an eye-opener.

    2. I appreciate the research-based approach of this article. The specific timeframes and the explanation behind them are very helpful.

  5. The insights provided in this article have prompted me to rethink the role of icing in recovery after exercise. It has made me consider the potential drawbacks more critically.

    1. I found the article’s explanation of the potential negative effects of excessive icing to be very compelling. It has given me a different perspective on this recovery method.

  6. This article has been very informative and has educated me on the best practices for recovery after an injury.

  7. It seems that the use of ice after an injury is not as straightforward as I had thought. This has definitely given me a different perspective on recovery methods.

    1. I never realized that icing too soon after exercise could be counterproductive. This article has challenged my previous beliefs about recovery methods.

    2. I was surprised to learn that icing muscles can slow down the recovery process. Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  8. The article brings up important points about the recovery process and the potential drawbacks of icing. It’s food for thought.

  9. The discussion on the potential risks of overusing ice therapy has been enlightening. It presents a different angle on this commonly recommended approach to recovery.

    1. The argument against over-icing presented in this article is compelling and has certainly made me reconsider how I approach my post-workout recovery.

    2. I never realized the potential downsides of excessive icing. This article has certainly made me rethink my recovery methods.

  10. The insights provided in this article have given me a lot to consider. The information about the time frame for returning to physical activity after icing is particularly valuable.

    1. I didn’t realize that muscle stiffness could result from excessive icing post-exercise. This article has certainly broadened my understanding.

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