Many athletic trainers use “ice to go” to treat their athletes. However, researchers have reported that icing a working muscle may negate intramuscular (IM) cooling.
The purpose of our study was to determine the length of time needed to cool the gastrocnemius while walking followed by rest.
A randomized crossover study design was used.
Exercise Physiology Laboratory.
Patients or Other Participants:
Nine healthy, physically active males and females (males 5, females 4; age 24.0 ± 2.0 years; height 174.0 ± 8.0 cm; weight 86.3 ± 6.5 kg; skinfold taken at center of gastrocnemius greatest girth, R leg 20.3 ± 4.4 mm, L leg 19.6 ± 4.1 mm) without lower extremity injury or cold allergy volunteered to complete the study.
Participants randomly experienced three treatment conditions on separate days: rest (R), walk for 15 minutes followed by rest (W15R), or walk for 30 minutes followed by rest (W30R). During each treatment, participants wore a 1 kg ice bag secured to their right gastrocnemius muscle. Participants walked at a 4.5km/hr pace on a treadmill during the W15R and W30R trials.
Main Outcome Measures:
A 1 × 3 within groups ANOVA was used to determine the effect of activity on cooling time needed for the gastrocnemius temperature to decrease 6 °C below baseline.
The R condition cooled faster (25.9 ± 5.5 min) than both W15R (33.7 ± 9.3 min; P = .002) and W30R (49.4 ± 8.4 min; P < .001). Average time to decrease 6 °C after W15R was 18.7 ± 9.3 minutes and after W30R was 19.4 ± 8.4 minutes.
Clinicians should instruct their patients to stay and ice or to keep the ice on for an additional 20 minutes after they stop walking and begin to rest.