Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ice, Ice Baby, Too cold!!!!!!

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)

I know there are  many different ways of doing ice baths and that you may wonder if you are doing them correctly, but let me tell you this. There is not an incorrect way. I recommend the following way: I freeze old empty 2 liter coke bottles with water in the freezer, 3 or 4 should do you. This way you can refreeze the bottles and not have to spend money on  bags of ice or empty out all your ice trays from the fridge. Next,  I sit my butt in the tub and turn on the cold water and let it surround me. I add the frozen 2 liters as the water rises over my legs. I usually wrap myself in a towel with a skull cap on, because it does get cold pretty fast and I have even had the shivers, but I always feel great afterwards. I will usually stay in the water about 10 minutes or so. Next I let the water drain out while I am still sitting there in the water, that's just a personal preference (no need for details here!)

So what are the benefits of an ice bath?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
See how much help he is getting?
One of the main questions people have about ice baths is how long to wait until they take a shower. Many say that a warm shower too soon can negate the effect of the ice bath. Some say you should wait up to 30 after the ice bath before you shower, some say to let your body return to its natural body temperatures first. Now, I am no doctor, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but I usually go ahead with a warm shower afterwards, that works for me. Just be careful that there is nothing numb so that you can't gauge the temperature of the water before you get in.

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.


  1. Great post!!!!! I just had my first "ice" bath ...I just used extremely cold water and I did another one after my last 10 miler on the tready and I like them. I think they definitely work for me. The difference in my calves afterwards is totally noticeable. PS: are you still raising money for st judes??

    1. Yes Maam, I sure am. Here is the link if interested in learning more!


  2. Cold water baths are just as effective as adding ice

    I attended a tri clinic put on by an ex-olympian, he said that the proper way to do it is, take the ice bath, followed directly with hot water

  3. I do ice baths after long runs and they do seem to aid in recovery!

    (just a heads up -- when I opened your blog and then clicked on the comment page, this kept coming up: A username and password are being requested by http://w1.whatcounter.com. The site says: "Restricted Area")

    1. I do not know how to remove it, it is an invisible counter that pops up on IE, but not on Chrome. I am working on trying to get it removed but haven't figured out how yet! Thanks


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