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Old 04-08-2003, 01:56 PM   #17
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
Joseph Huebner wrote:
For muscular pain I take ibuprofen, and do an ice massage. The message involves working ice over the affected area to produce a chill in the muscle mass. This is not the most comfortable thing to do. YET, what this accomplishes is a response of the body to dialate blood vessels in the affected muscle to warm the muscle back up. (the first response to cold is vasoconstriction, then vasodialation)
In theory, yes, but in my experience, it is very difficult to get the cold from applied ice to 'penetrate' very far down into a muscle mass. The best luck I've had is to fill the max size ice bag completely with ice and water and strap it on with an ace bandage - this is a mass of ice water almost as large as a football. When I had bursitis on my knee, I had to leave it on for about an hour to completely cool the swollen area, which was about 1/2" thick, superficial to the patella. Consequently, I am skeptical that rubbing a mere ice cube around amounts to much more than standard massage with skin cooling.
Joseph Huebner wrote:
Lactic acid builds in overworked and injured muscle. It causes pain and cramps. By "flushing" the muscle by the above mentioned process, pain is lessened, and healing time is reduced.
I'm sorry, but while massage can marginally speed muscle recovery, what you've said here is simply not true. Lactic acid builds up in muscles when activity intensity is high enough that production outpaces removal. This accumulation tends to feel like an immediate, localized burning, tightness, or 'pumped' sensation. All lactic acid buildup from a particular activity is 'flushed' into the liver where it is coverted to lactate or coverted locally for energy within minutes at most (unless you were to die suddenly). By the time the burning subsides, most of the accumulation is gone.

Soreness that lingers for hours or days is generally called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. This has nothing to do with lactic acid, but is rather thought to be about microtrauma (damage) to muscle and intra-muscular connective tissue. Things like massage, light exercise, and hot-cold contrast baths can help speed healing, but these effects are probably mostly due to increasing overall metabolism/circulation in the muscle.
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