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Joe Rogan appears to be into ice baths now, but do they do anything for muscle recovery?The 53-year-old podcaster recently shared a video of himself taking a 20-minute ice bath in a tub outside. While there’s no ice seen in the bath, Rogan claims the water was a “steady 33 degrees,” leaving him shivering for 30 minutes after, and Rogan is seen to be visibly uncomfortable for the length of it.
“Thought I might die,” he says, climbing out of the tub. His secret to lasting so long in super cold water? “Deep breathing exercises,” he says. “Once I did that, it was more tolerable.”
So are “ice” baths worth it for muscle recovery? While icing may feel good temporarily, Rogan could actually be impeding his recovery. Previously reported by Men’s Health, recent research has shown that icing after a workout or injury can actually delay healing, increase swelling, and possibly cause additional damage to injured tissues. Even the creator of the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, which is still taught heavily across physical therapy schools, has to agree. “My RICE guidelines have been used for decades, but new research shows rest and ice actually delay healing and recovery,” Gabe Mirkin, MD, previously told Men’s Health.
That doesn’t mean every doctor or physical therapist is ready to let go of the common ice method for inflammation. “Ice is the best modality to control pain, swelling and inflammation,” Rick Wright, MD, former physician with the St. Louis Blues, Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams, previously told Men’s Health. “Especially if you ice for 25 to 30 minutes so you get actual cooling of the tissue and decrease inflammation, as opposed to shorter periods where you can get a rebound response.”
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The best way to recover after a strenuous workout is actually to keep moving, ideally through active recovery activities like walking or light yoga. A 2016 study shows that an active recovery protocol helps reduce overall fatigue from muscles worked during exercise, readily improving your performance going forward. So pick your recovery poison: A little movement, or about 20 minutes of ice-y discomfort?
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