A coach friend of mine shared this video with me, which I found to be eye opening! Kelly Starrett and Gary Reinl talk about how icing does far more damage than good and should not be utilized for muscle recovery. The real solution to muscle recovery? Movement and muscle contraction.

My takeaways

  • There are stem cells in the muscle tissue that contribute to repair (whaaaaaat, that’s fascinating!)
  • Icing shuts down the repair process, damages tissue by lowering the temperature to much, and halts lymphatic drainage; in addition it does not physically reduce swelling and creates more damage on top of what is already existing, delaying the healing process
  • Lymphatic drainage occurs during movement and muscle contraction
  • To answer the question of what you should do, consider the body’s natural response (inflammation) and recognize that the body knows what it’s doing
  • Avoid ice or NSAIDs because they prevent you from responding to pain (the body’s signal that you should do something other than what you’re doing) and ultimately delay the healing process

Gary Reinl will have a book coming out soon (Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option)  and some additional articles on this topic can be found here, here, here, and here. Related to injury prevention and recovery, here is an interesting article (with links to some HBO coverage) about Dr James Andrews, famed orthopedic surgeon.

In light of all this, I feel like I wasted the past two months from a physical recovery standpoint. All this time I was resting, icing/heating, doing massage and ART… Now I know why I have seen no results! If I had kept moving (perhaps in addition to the massage and ART) I would have seen real progress.

On the one hand I’m super bummed that I “wasted” the time, but on the other hand I know that mentally I had to change my mindset to ensure that I would no longer have the same thought patterns that led me to injury in the first place. In the end I’m in a much better place than I was 2 months ago, and now I can confidently return to Crossfit. You read that? IMMA GO DO CROSSFIT!