Ice is a valuable therapy for decreasing inflammation, pain and swelling. However, using it during exercise or competition (e while sitting on the sideline or between lifts during a weightlifting contest) could decrease performance and increase the risk of injury. Ice decreases muscle and nerve metabolism, slows nerve conduction speed, and impairs the rate of muscle activation.
Researchers from Old Dominion University found that applying an ice bag on the hamstrings for 10 minutes decreased performance in the shuttle run, single leg vertical jump, and co-contraction test. The effects lasted for at least 20 minutes after exercise. Applying ice for 3 minutes had no effect on performance. Ice is a valuable modality for treating injuries and trauma during recovery from physical activity, but should not be used before or during exercise.