Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Ice Bath

• Fill bathtub with cold water.
• Sit in it for 20 minutes.
• Should come out refreshed and muscles feeling better.

I tried ice bathing after reading about it a couple of years ago. I also saw on TV, Football players soaking in drums filled with cold water and ice. I already knew beforehand that ice was beneficial to speeding the healing process on injuries and working out minor aches and pains. I trust cold more than I trust heat. I only apply heat when my muscles are not sore or injured. So anyway it made total sense to me that an overall ice bathing of the legs would not only help the problem spots but also be beneficial to the rest of the leg muscles as well, they're all interconnected anyway. The cold keeps the inflammation down on the muscles by causing the capillaries to constrict. You don't have to be injured to have sore inflammed muscles. Part of training is the breaking down of muscle which is then rebuilt stronger by the body, weightlifting is a good example of this. While muscles are inflammed healing can't take place, the faster the inflammation is stopped and reversed the faster the recovery. This is why doctors prescribe anit-inflammatory's or why athletes nurse their injuries with ice packs. The cold also helps with pain and soreness that sometimes accompanies a hard workout.

So I usually do all my stretches and warm down exercises first. Then I fill the bathtub with cold water, here in SF tap water is plenty cold enough. Once I actually threw in a bag of ice and I wasn't able to really tell the difference. My feet are sensitive to the cold water so my first 5 minutes is spent just standing around. When the pain in my feet finally go away I then sit in tub, immersing my whole lower body. If you try it feel free to yell silently or loudly as you go down. I then sit for about 20 minutes with a book or a magazine. Some folks recommend a warm shirt to keep your upper body warm. It's excruciating at first but once your body adjusts (the body is an amazing thing) it will feel good. Move your legs around if you want, it makes it feel colder:) It's a lot better than an ice pack.

Along with stretching and proper post run nutrition, the ice bath goes a long way in helping me recover from my hard workouts. I even know one runner who ice baths his legs after every run as protection from injuries. My legs have felt a lot better since I instituted a more consistent application of ice bathing. If you're a runner and have never done it I would suggest giving it a shot. It can only do you good.


  1. Blah, blah...I know it's beneficial, but am not subjecting myself to this torture!

  2. awww c'mon you're an ultra runner! This is nothing. I used to say the same thing, "I've suffered enough and I ain't suffering this". Believe me it starts to feel good and is good for you.

    You wear shorts in the snow, this ain't nuthin'

  3. you can also just stand in the Bay,,,,or for Olga just stand in the snow!!!