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 Exercise?

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

The short answer is usually 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. 

RECOMMENDED
How long After Gout Flare To Start Allopurinol (And Why)?

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 often 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

RECOMMENDED
How Long To Observe After Head Injury (And Why)?

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.

Conclusion

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 generally 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.

Reference

  1. https://runnersconnect.net/ice-bath-benefits/
  2. https://centenoschultz.com/heat-or-ice-after-working-out-recovery/ 
x
How Long After Protein Shake To Eat Meal