Recently I read the book Run To Overcome by marathoner and New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi. In the book Meb talks often about Ice Baths and how it was a staple of is training and recovery. I have never herd of ice baths until reading this book but after reading how much it helped him I decided to do some research and even give it a try. Meb is pretty lucky because he has a natural ice bath in the form of a creek nearby. After his long runs he simply walks waist deep into the creek and stands there for 15 minutes. He says that although they are painful they are extremely effective at reducing inflammation, muscle strains and soreness.
This is what the runner’s bible aka runners world magazine says about ice baths: "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 by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultra runner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times."
So I've decided to start doing this cold water therapy so many experts speak of. Painful-you bet. Helps recovery-yes indeed. I'm sure it would help a lot more if I could do it as cold as you’re supposed to. I'm working my way to that. I simply fill the tub on the coldest setting fill it so it will cover my legs, grab a steaming cup of tea, my Nook Color for some internet distraction and/or Nook book. I sit for at least 10 minutes but try to do 15. And it truly does help and it even does help my surgery repaired ankle. I do recommend this to anyone who is a distance runner or any kind of athlete who is feeling pain and need a little extra aid in their recovery.
So how do you properly take an ice bath? I've told you how I do it but here is the "proper" way. Anyway, do what I do, fill the tub with cold water. Slowly get in (but for me that's worse the slower the more torture so I go full on as fast as I can). Once you adjust dump in a 5lb bag of ice or a few trays of ice cubs, after you've adjusted if you can handle more, add more. Then try to stay put for 10 minutes but if you feel numbness get out. On top of the previously mentioned (tea/book) I also wear one of my long sleeves thermal on top. I've even herd of some people putting on beanie caps and mittens. To each their own! This is also to be said about the Ice Bath!