How long and how cold do you have to go?
In fact, the former Manchester United sport scientist points out the majority of these interventions probably only provide a placebo effect.
“The main thing it seems to be is there’s a perception of improved recovery, which we know could be attributed to athlete belief effects or the placebo phenomenon.”
So what does work? Well, Thorpe’s research includes in-depth investigations into how athletes can recover faster using hot or cold baths. These methods are backed by science.
“There’s decent literature that suggests the optimal dose-response from cold water, across the research, is going to be around 10 to 12 minutes,” Thorpe said.
Ok, so you have to endure at least 10 minutes of cold to enhance the recovery process, but just how cold does it need to be?
“I think 10 to 12 minutes between eight and 12 degrees Celsius is going to be, I think, a good starting point for anyone working with athletes or for athletes themselves,” Thorpe said.
This sounds pretty attainable, right? Well, according to the good doctor, you can bin off all the icy goodness, and instead you could just fill your bath from the cold tap.
“People historically have been going out and buying absolutely tons of ice at a supermarket, they could just get a pretty decent ratio by just running the cold tap,” Thorpe said.