Soak in 52-degree water

It could help you recover from a tough workout.

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A quick soak in cold water may help curtail chronic pain, according to a recent case study. But experts believe that cold-water immersion (CWI) could benefit post-workout recovery for healthy athletes as well as those recovering from injuries.


“There is considerable research that supports the use of cold-water immersion to reduce the perception of muscle soreness and muscle fatigue,” says Polly de Mille, CSCS, clinical supervisor at Tisch Sports Performance Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The evidence on exactly why is less clear. Prevailing theories are based on the idea that the cold temperature reduces swelling and inflammation in the muscle (either via restricting blood flow or working alongside water pressure to encourage fluid to move to the center of the body), or slows down the speed of nerve conduction, dampening the perception of soreness and pain. It could also be a placebo effect combined with the distraction of suffering through frigid temps, de Mille adds.

Cold-water immersion within an hour of working out could be a helpful addition to your regeneration routine, says de Mille. Aim for a duration of 11 to 15 minutes in roughly 52-degree water. If you can't stand the polar temps, your warmer pool may be worth a plunge: “There are some that think neutral temperatures will still have a positive effect based on the idea that the water pressure is what's key,” de Mille says.