When I mention ice baths to my patients and runners I usually get rolling eyes and a few choice words about shrinking male anatomy. Despite initial apprehension and the first 3-5 minutes of sheer pain, ice baths are worth their torture ten fold and many a naysayer who has tried it swear by this seemingly cruel modality.
Ice baths are one of the best ways to help decrease the inflammation process that accompanies microtearing of the muscles following long runs. They decrease muscle soreness and boost post-run recovery.
I"m personally a big wimp when it comes to cold, but over the years I've turned science into an art to make the process somewhat bearable.
Coach Amy's Ice Bath Tips
- Wear warm clothing from the top of your head to your waist. Yes, that includes a hat, gloves and turtleneck. In the winter I add a sweatshirt layer. The rest of you...naked as a babe.
- Prepare a hot mug of tea or coffee to sip on during your soak. Plastic mugs are safer for obvious reasons.
- Grab a good book - I recommend staying away from electronic ones, but I've been know to risk it!
- Sit in the tub BEFORE you turn on the water or add cubes. Stepping into an already filled tub...well you try it and get back with me on how long it took you to get in.
- Turn on the cold tap and let it creep up to your waist. Add cubes.Wimps should start with cold tap water - try adding cubes another day!
- Grit your teeth, scream, meditate - do whatever it takes to get through the first 3-5 minutes. Yes that ache in your feet/toes that feels like they are breaking...that is normal.
- Enjoy your book and set your watch for 20 min. Your numb now, so take heart that all the magic of the cold is doing its work.
- Take a warm shower.
- Do some gentle dynamic stretching (only if you've done step 8).
- Take a nap and enjoy the rest of your day!