If you've ever been in a running or exercise competition that exhausts muscle power, you may have been served a bag of ice cubes to paste on potentially natural muscle aches. This way is believed to make the muscles relax and reduce the incidence of muscle pain.
However, according to new research published in the Journal of Physiology, there is a more effective way to reduce post-exercise pain, not by cooling it, but warming it. Researchers rate, the way is more effective in repairing muscle damaged post-exercise, including better able to maintain muscle strength afterwards.
In one study, researchers asked participants to do 3 hand-held bicycle trips. The first visit, the participants exercised hand-held bicycles with moderate intensity for an hour, then were asked to rest by not doing anything on their muscles.
After the first recovery period, the researcher again asked the participants to visit the second hand sports bike at maximum speed, then asked to do the recovery method by cooling the muscle.
And on the third visit, the participants were asked to do the same as the second visit, but the method of recovery was warming the muscle to 37 degrees Celsius. And at each visit, participants were asked to eat carbohydrates during recovery and re-exercise after a 2-hour recovery.
Of the three methods of recovery, the method of recovery with muscle heating can produce the best muscle strength afterwards, in addition to produce the best muscle recovery. Conversely, cooling the muscles after exercise, causing a reduction in muscle power, although the recovery is still fairly good.
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Scientists take a step further by testing the muscle fibers of rats to try and figure out exactly why this happens. The muscle fibers are attached to the machine that records its power, then is stimulated by an electric current.
Scientists place glycogen on some fibers, the equivalent of a hand bike rider who eats carbohydrates during the recovery period, and finds out the recovery results by cooling and heating the muscles.
The result, muscle cooling actually reduces the ability of muscles to absorb glycogen from carbohydrates after exercise, while warming helps the muscles absorb these nutrients. Thus, muscle fiber that is kept warm after exercise produces better muscle recovery. In addition, keep your muscles strong for doing sports or moving actively in the near future.
In essence, warming your muscles post exercise may be a better way to recover and maintain muscle strength, rather than cooling it down. This way you can try, like a sauna or use a warm water bag. But be sure to eat carbohydrates, like bananas, as long as you do.