Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory, so ice baths are a great technique to include in your recovery routine. Ice baths not only help in mending your muscles, but they also help you feel fresh as you train and race. The shock of getting into a tub of ice is not always enticing, but it is important to remember that an ice bath will help boost your body’s recovery and help prevent injury. The rewards are worth it!
After we exercise, microscopic tears form in our muscles that cause inflammation. When you get into an ice bath, the cold water causes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your legs. When you get out of the tub, ‘new’ blood flows into your legs, invigorating your muscles with oxygen and reducing inflammation. This increase in blood flow also makes it deep into the muscle tissue, helping to flush out any build-up or damage. Most often the results are noticed the next day, but you may find your legs feeling fresh right after the bath.
Below are a few tips to make the most of your ICE bath:
- Ice baths are most effective when taken within 60 minutes of finishing a workout.
- They should last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
- The temperature range should be between 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For those who cannot stand the icy water, you can always ease into the coldness by adding ice after you get in a tub or even a baby pool.
- The water (in the tub) must cover your entire lower body, i.e. legs, glutes, hip-flexors, low back or anywhere you are feeling fatigue.
If all else fails, take a plunge inside the Chattahoochee River. You may even see some of your fellow runners out there after their long runs!