The ice bath. I’ve you’ve spent very long reading fitness blogs, you’ve probably heard of someone mentioning an ice bath after a long run. So what’s the deal surrounding all the hype?
Ice baths (a form of cryotherapy or “cold therapy”) are used to help reduce swelling, soreness, and chances of injury. An article in Runner’s World says the following:
Cryotherapy (“cold therapy”) constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling of the body
Makes sense, right? Well, after doing a quick google search for some information back in December and took my first ice bath after my Jingle Bell Jog. Since that time I’ve taken one every Saturday after my run. The first time I took the ice bath I thought I might die, and I shook incredibly violently for about 10 minutes. It was miserable. Since that time, I’ve developed some tactics to make this more bearable.
- Run a space heater to warm up your bathroom. A warmer room helps just a little bit. And if you have a space heater blowing on you while you’re in the tub, it will also help.
- Run your bath water as cold as it will go: You want the water to be between 50 and 60 degrees, so in the winter your water may be cold enough simply from the water. If you have a thermometer, you can stick it in the water to see how cold it is.
- Keep your clothes on. Yes, I did say to keep your clothes on in the tub. Keeping your core warm is incredibly helpful in the overall experience.
- Dump ice in once you are in the water: This was my first mistake back in December. Get into the tub slowly and allow your body to acclimate to the water. Again, you want your water between 50 and 60 degrees, so don’t go overboard with the ice. You don’t want to be unsafe here…
- Make tea or hot chocolate and bring it into the tub with you. Drinking something warm is incredibly helpful in avoiding the “i’m dying” feeling. It’ll help keep you warm and you won’t feel as miserable if you can hold and drink something warm.
- Watch something funny to distract yourself. Laughter will take your mind off of the miserable feelings you have. “Modern Family” has become part of my ice bath routine, and helps me look forward to it.
- Watch your time. You don’t want to get hypothermia here, so watching your time is critical to this whole process. You want to stay in 10-20 minutes, partly depending on how cold the water is.
Have I convinced you that taking an ice bath is a fun experience? No? Ice baths aren’t fun, but if you keep in mind the overall goal of them, they are a more tolerable experience. When you first start taking ice baths, you might want to aim on the warmer side for the water, and slowly reduce the temperature so you get used to the experience. Remember to be safe and smart:)
Now it’s your turn to share! Have you ever taken an ice bath? What’s your best tip for taking ice baths?
*This is a personal blog, and I am simply sharing what I have found to be helpful in taking ice baths. I am NOT A DOCTOR. Please talk to your doctor if you have concerns or before trying any new treatments.