how to survive a post-run ice bath
This weekend had two important milestones, the first being I successfully completed my longest training run in over a year- 17 miles! I ran with Brady, who was a doll and agreed to run with me at 6:30 on Sunday morning.
I only had 45 minutes by the time I got home to get out the door for church but I knew I needed an ice bath, which bring me to my second milestone: my first ice bath in 2+ years!
Ice baths are like marathons in the way that you forget how much you hate them until you're actually doing it, at which point there's no turning back. But ice baths are said to speed recovery so they're kind of a necessary evil, IMO. Active.com says:
The general theory behind this cold therapy is that the exposure to cold helps to combat the microtrauma (small tears) in muscle fibers and resultant soreness caused by intense or repetitive exercise.
The ice bath is thought to constrict blood vessels, flush waste products and reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. Subsequently, as the tissue warms and the increased blood flow speeds circulation, the healing process is jump-started. The advantage of an ice bath submersion is that a large area of intertwined musculature can be treated, rather than limiting the cold therapy to a concentrated area with a localized ice pack.
So ice baths = good, or at least generally won't do any harm. Here are my tips on surviving one.
- Keep your shorts on. Ain't nobody got time for frostbite on their nether regions. Plus, I feel like this counts as laundry.
- Change out of your wet top/sports bra in favor of a long-sleeve shirt. May as well keep your top-half warm.
- Brew coffee, tea or other hot beverage of choice and pour yourself a big old mug to be enjoyed while sitting in the tub.
- Distraction. A book, magazine, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Bring something that will keep your mind off the cold.
- This is probably the most important step: Fill the tub with cold water, get in, then add the ice. In my experience, if you add ice before you get in, the amount of discomfort increases by like 1000%. Getting into cold water is bad enough but ice water is agony.
Google research tells me that the water temp should be between 50-59 degrees but short of getting a thermometer out, I don't know how you figure that out. Basically it should be uncomfortable (it's cold water!) but not painful.
- Chill out (total pun intended) for the next 10-20 minutes.
So I want to know: Do you ice bath? If you do, any tips to share? If you don't, are you going to try?