The Ice Bath
I don’t take ice baths. Primarily because we have two stand up showers and it isn’t feasible. However, I want to take ice baths, especially during the summer months. Instead I have to resort to taking cold showers or maybe a dip in the pool (which I did today).
A lot, if not all, of elite athletes use some sort of cold therapy after hard workouts. Just check out Josh Cox and Meb Keflezighi using a cold creek in the mountains to help with their post workout recovery.
Why in the world should runners be taking ice cold baths?
When we run, we use many parts of our bodies – muscles, tendons, nerves, bones, and various tissues. After a hard workout, all of these parts of the body need repairing. This is done by oxygen being delivered by the blood vessels to the muscles, which then takes away the waste products of exercise (lactic acid, for example). To help facilitate this process, enter one cold ice bath. When you get into an ice bath (or cold creek, cold shower, etc.), your blood vessels tighten and all of the blood drains from your legs. After 10 minutes or so, your legs become numb. This stops metabolic activity, prevents tissue breakdown, and decreases inflammation. When you get out of the ice bath, your legs fill up with new blood, which delivers more oxygen to your muscles to help improve cell function and facilitate recovery. And hopefully, those 10-20 minutes of uncomfortable coldness will get you out the door running a little faster and a little less sore.
Here is a great video that breaks down exactly how you should do an ice bath.
For now, I will stick to the cold shower. However, it was recommended to me that I buy two really large buckets, fill them with ice and water, and then put each leg in for about 15 minutes. I haven’t yet done this, mainly because I’m not sure where I would put the buckets when not in use – we live in a small space. It does seem though that ice baths are quite beneficial. I just might be making a trip to Target soon.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,