Have you ever taken an ice bath? What was it like? How did you feel after it?
Taking an after run plunge in ice water (a tub of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius ice water) is a common practice among many runners as a way to recover faster, and reduce muscle pain and soreness after an intense training session or race.
But of the studies I’ve looked at regarding the effects of ice baths, cold water immersion and contrast water therapy on exercise recovery and muscle soreness, most were inconclusive or offered contradictory findings.
It was clear more research is needed before a real conclusion can be made.
That being said, if you’re going to try cool or cold water immersion after exercise, don’t overdo it. Ten minutes immersed in 15 degree Celsius water should be enough time to get the benefit and avoid the risks.
Because cold can make muscles tense and stiff, it’s a good idea to fully warm up about 30 to 60 minutes later with a warm shower or a hot drink.
If you prefer alternating hot and cold baths, the most common method includes one minute in a cold tub (10-15 degrees Celsius) and two minutes a hot tub (about 37-40 degrees Celsius), repeated about 3 times.
Whether the science supports the ice bath theory or not, it doesn’t replace your own experience. Many athletes swear an ice bath after intense training helps them recover faster, prevent injury and just feel better.
In the inspirational segment of the show, I share a quote with great meaning and impact.
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Your running will thank you!