Icing Muscle Injuries May Delay Recovery

Icing is one of the most common treatments for acute muscle injuries. However, previous studies on rodents have demonstrated detrimental effects of icing on muscle regeneration following injury. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology aimed to examine exactly what factors are involved in the impairment of muscle regeneration from icing.

In the study, muscle damage was induced on mice through electrical stimulation causing eccentric contraction. The damaged muscles were harvested and ice was applied on top of the skin over three 30-minute sessions per day, with each session two hours apart. The treatment was applied for two days.

After comparing the icing group with a non-icing control group, the researchers found that the ratio of small regenerating fibers to total (i.e., medium and large) regenerating fibers was higher in icing-treated animals than in untreated animals, suggesting that skeletal muscle regeneration may be delayed as a result of icing.  

The authors conclude: “These findings suggest that icing following muscle damage blunts the efficiency of muscle regeneration by perturbing the removal of necrotic myofibers and phenotypic dynamics of macrophages rather than affecting myogenic factors.”

Read the full study online at https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01069.2020.

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