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May 06, 2015 2 min read

Those of us who lead health active lifestyles are definitely not strangers to bumps, bruises, sprains and strains. One of the biggest debates among sports therapists relating to injury is whether heat or ice is more effective in treating a muscle strain. We've all put that pack of peas on our rolled ankle at one time or another - but what if the cold wasn't helping you recover at all? According to a new paper by Experimental Biology Meeting, turns out, icing injured muscles may not actually help speed up your recovery time or muscle healing. The researchers conducted a preliminary study on rats with (which are not humans, we know) but the results are intriguing nonetheless. Each rat had muscle contusions (which are basically muscle bruises, the second most common sports injury next to strains) and were treated with ice compresses within five minutes of the injury for 20 minutes total. When they compared the rats with no ice to those that did use it, the ice group had lower inflammatory cells and higher blood vessel regeneration for the first three days.  After seven days, however, they actually had more inflammatory cells as well as fewer new blood vessels forming and less muscle fiber regeneration. These negative responses to icing continued for the rest of the month after the initial injury. While the debates is still hot over whether ice really does slow down the healing process or not, science has proven ice good for decreasing the pain of muscle injuries. The added bonus? Less pain allows you to be more active, further being able to rehabilitate the muscle through activation. Just make sure you're not risking an overuse injury! Despite this study’s findings, it is recommend that you continue applying ice immediately after an injury to help with pain and inflammation. However, once the swelling has set in,  you should stop icing, start light exercise (like a short walk) and elevate the muscle when you aren't standing. The best way to treat sore muscles is with cold therapy first and heat therapy later. What do you do for aches and pains after you bust out your Advanced Bootcamp workout? (Get the Advanced Bootcamp and so much MORE with SweatFlix℠!)

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