Ice Baths. Those two words are enough to make people cringe. They are enough to make people run for the hills, enough to make grown men cry, enough to... sorry, but you get the picture. In other words, they are not fun.But are they beneficial? Some say yes, some say nope, not at all. I have started hitting the ice baths after my long runs since I started my focus on the marathon, and I believe they do some good.
They make you faster! (not really, but maybe)
So what are the benefits of an ice bath?
- Reduces Tissue Breakdown and Swelling- Whether scientific studies support the ice bath immersion or not, many professional athletes swear that it helps to prevent muscle injury and strain, and also aids in faster recovery. Ice bath immersion produces a lasting effect in deep tissues, which consecutively helps in cooling larger muscle groups.
- Flushes Out Harmful Metabolic Waste- Ice bath immersion is not only effective in suppressing swelling; but also aid in flushing harmful substance from the muscles, such as lactic acid. Ice bath immersion increases blood flow in the body.
- Decrease Metabolic Activity- According to recent scientific studies, ice bath immersion is also effective in reducing metabolic activity in athletes. It reduces metabolic activity by constricting the blood vessels, which in turn minimizes tissue breakdown and inflammation. On the other hand, cold water immersion which is also referred to as water therapy is popularly used to reduce muscle soreness and exercise recovery.
- Improves Healing process- With increase in blood circulation after performing intensive exercises, ice bath immersion is a standard routine among professional athletes as it enhances the healing process.
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For me, I love the ice bath, it always makes me feel better and I am not sure why I do not do them more often. I seem to only ice bath on runs over 10 miles and usually only in the late fall or winter during marathon training.