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Sore Muscle Remedies That Really Work

Ice Bath

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/15/2012 7:47 am Updated: 02/16/2012 2:05 pm

People do some crazy stuff to get rid of their post-workout muscle pain, which is known in the medical community as DOMS -- for delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS occurs when an exercise causes stress to muscle tissue. The tissue develops microscopic tears, causing inflammation and then pain that begins to mount in the 24- to 48-hour period that follows a workout.

While some athletes swear by acupuncture (that works!), others insist that nothing but a hot water bottle (which doesn't) will do. But amidst all the anecdotal evidence and superstition, how can we determine what actually will improve the muscle pain? A few new studies give us a glimpse into what might be the best strategies, including the latest one, released just yesterday on the efficacy of ice baths – a method of dunking your post-workout body in a frigid bath of water that is favored by everyone from rugby players to triathletes.

The study found that cold water baths do indeed reduce muscle soreness, but they have a limited effect. A look at some other remedies that have the clinical data to back up their claims:

Ice Bathing
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The authors of the study performed a survey of existing research, looking at the results of 17 independent clinical studies, in which a total 366 people who had recently exercised were either sent into ice baths, did nothing or rested. They found that the ice bath group recovered from muscle soreness faster, but the findings were limited:

"We found some evidence that immersing yourself in cold water after exercise can reduce muscle soreness, but only compared to resting or doing nothing," lead author Chris Bleakley, a research fellow at the department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ulster in Ireland said in a statement.