Are you a marathon runner? New study finds hot tub soaking better than icing muscles post-run
February 27, 2018 – Spring is just around the corner. Many avid runners are gearing up for marathons in the Pacific Northwest. Over the next few months, there are 17 marathons to choose from in Washington State alone!
For years, a lot of active runners have been fans of ice baths or cooling after a run to soothe their achy muscles that were put to the test. Well…guess what? A new study seems to throw cold water on that idea and points to hot water use as the smarter therapy.
A study recently completed involved five men and women in good physical condition. They were taken to a performance lab where they ran through a gamut of pedaling intervals with arm-pedaling machines. They were put into a circuit training session, using the pedaling machine and then through 20 minutes of easier (but non-stop) exercise. During each session the participants’ power output and heart rate was monitored.
The goal was to fatigue arm muscles, then ask the study participants to consume significant carbohydrates to restore the depletion of glycogen that results from exhaustive exercise. The results for recovery were recorded.
Then, the team was asked to return and repeat the pedaling/exercise circuit. This time, however, they were asked to slide on specially designed sleeves immediately after finishing the workout. These sleeves allowed the researchers to gauge what happens when they were heated to about 100◦F; on another session the sleeves were instead chilled to about 5◦F. While the sleeves were worn, they again took in carbohydrates. Once each recovery session wrapped, they all repeated the pedaling exercise—the most tiring portion of the circuit.
Power output was significantly better when heat was used for muscle recovery in conjunction with carbohydrate intake. It appears that muscle recovery was much better when the muscles were warmed, aiding the muscle fibers to absorb carbohydrates and speed recovery.
Hot water soaking—yes for marathoners! Paired with serious carb intake, you might discover you’ll be feeling stronger faster, ward off muscle ache, and be ready to hit the road again in no time!