running on water

Cold water immersion after running

The body’s recovery after a high physical demand is key for any runner (or at least it should be!).

The main objective of post-running recovery is to let the body return to a pre-exercise condition, allowing it to be readily available for any new situation and minimizing injury risk.

As a result, post-run recovery should be an essential component to any training program.

Training plays the role of the architect on a construction site and rest is the builder; without the necessary time to rest and recover, your body gets stressed and weary and doesn’t get the chance to duly recompose.

In this circumstances, your possible progress is inhibited and injury risk increases.

To achieve recovery, there are different methods that will help you: from nutrition, elongations, massages to, of course, cold water immersion (cryotherapy).

This technique basically consists in exposing the runner to a constant source of cold water, to contribute to the blood flow and decrease inflammation.

Keeping that in mind and in view of many runner’s doubts about the recovery effects of this technique, we want to review to Studies in which different cold water immersion techniques were reviewed.


In the year 2009, a Study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports concluded that cold water immersion would allow a faster recovery in male athletes.

In this Study, participants performed strenuous physical activity and then submitted to 15 minutes of cold water immersion, contrasting immersion (cold water – hot water) or no recovery technique.

In another Study, the differences between immediate post-exercise immersion and immersion 3 hours after training were compared.

To carry out the Study, 8 well-trained athletes competing on the highest amateur level in their respective sports were assembled. They were in the middle of their competition seasons and were injury-free.

The tests were performed in 3 sessions, which consisted in high intensity intervals followed by one of the 3 previously mentioned recovery conditions (no immersion, immediate immersion, immersion after 3 hours).

After each test the participants were asked to return after 24hs for controls. The immersion was performed by submerging the body in 15º C water for 15 minutes.


All tests were performed at the same time of day one week apart, and the participants were indicated to abstain from alcohol, caffeine intense physical training 24hs before the exams.

The results showed that immediate cold water immersion exponentially accelerated recovery, compared to no immersion or immersion after 3 hours of exercise.

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After hard training, performing cold water immersion (15 degrees Celcius) for 15 minutes can help you recover faster.



Effect of water immersion methods on post-exercise recovery from simulated team sport exercise.

Effect of Immediate and Delayed Cold Water Immersion After a High Intensity Exercise Session on Subsequent Run Performance

flickr photo by kennysarmy shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license