Ice Baths

I’ve mentioned ice baths a number of times in my posts. I take them after long training runs and after races. They require discipline, but the results are worthwhile.

What’s the point of taking an ice bath, you might ask?

Long story short, an ice bath enables a faster and more complete recovery after exercise. There’s a pretty good explanation in this article. Here’s an excerpt:

“The theory behind ice baths is related to the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibers. This muscle damage not only stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair the damage and strengthen the muscles ( muscle hypertrophy), but it is also linked with delayed onset muscle pain and soreness (DOMS) , which occurs between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.

The ice bath is thought to:

* Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissues
* Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes
* Reduce swelling and tissue breakdown.”

There’s lots more good information in the article. I urge you to read it.

Consider taking ice baths after your long runs or intense workouts. You’ll thank me. Honest!

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5 comments

  1. Alan,

    I think I will try this Saturday! Thanks for the tip. I like to hop in the Hot Tub after runs but I am going to try the Ice route this weekend.

    – Adam C

  2. Alan,

    I have yet to try this and I have been thinking about giving it a shot. Do you fill the bathtub up with ice? Or do you fill it with cold water and add ice? Kind of curious on trying this since the longer runs seem to really hurt the feet afterwards. Anything to assist in the recovery would be great. I typically do my long runs on Saturday and use Sunday as a recovery day but I would like to incorporate Sunday as another long running day. How long do you typically sit in the Ice bath? I have a high tolerance to cold so I don’t think that will be the issue. Any additional info would be appreciated! Thanks Man!

    1. I sit in the bathtub, and empty a 5 lb. bag of ice as the cold water is running, and let it fill until it’s up to my waist. I usually sit there for about 10 or 15 minutes, empty the tub, and then refill the tub with hot water, into which I dissolve about 2 cups of Epsom salts.

  3. It’s true! I learned about this from Alan around July 2009 and only just recently worked up the nerve to go all it. I’d been doing a quasi ice bath – just my feet in a bucket of ice water. The bucket ice batch worked wonders for my feet and ankle area, but I’ve been upping the long-run mile and need to take the plunge.

    It’s not as bad as I thought – there’s the initial shock, but then just relax it feels great.

    Thanks Alan 🙂

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