Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ice Baths--Crazy? Or Not?

I think I may have gone over the edge. After my long run on Sunday, I woke up from my nap and started perusing the latest edition of Runner's World (Sept. '08). I kept stumbling upon "ice baths." How great they are for recovery, how to do them, etc, etc. It was a sign. Ignoring the voice of reason in my head, I dumped the entire ice tray in my tub and filled it up a third of the way with cold water. Then, donning a heavy sweatshirt and armed with music, some reading material (Runner's World and Bicycling) and a stopwatch, I slowly lowered myself into the icy cold water. Yeeeeooooow!!!! That's COLD!!! The first three minutes were excruciating but if Deena Kastor and Dean Karnazes can do it, then I can too. I relied on my music and reading material to distract me. After the first few minutes, my legs adjusted (actually, they just went kind of numb), and the rest of my 15 minutes was, believe it or not, quite pleasurable. Who would've thought? Ice baths really aren't that bad! Compared to all the other masochistic things I do to myself (foam roller anyone?), ice baths are cake! The verdict? No soreness or tightness the next day. Much less puffiness and swelling! Muscle fatigue and weakness? Still there, of course. Guess I still need a recovery day but at least I'm putting myself at less risk for injury! All I can say is...I'm a convert; I've joined the ice side.
How To Ice Bath:
1. Dump an entire ice tray (from the automatic ice dispenser) or 2 bags of ice (from the grocery store or gas station) into the tub.
2. Fill the tub 1/3 of the way with cold water--enough to cover your entire lower body, from hip to heel.
3. Put on a sweatshirt to keep yourself warm.
4. Bring music and reading material, especially for the first few minutes.
5. Slowly lower yourself down. Start the stopwatch.
6. Brace yourself for the first few minutes; it's not that pleasant (but knowing so makes it more bearable).
7. After the first few minutes, relax and enjoy!
8. Once 15-20 minutes have elapsed, you're done. Time for a nap!



Ryan Denner said...

ice baths are money!! the key is to put cold water in first, then get in, THEN put the ice in. that way, you cool down gradually, rather than the shell shock factor! I have found that 30 lbs of ice is NOT enough!

Ken Schulz said...

Ice baths are where it's at... also standing/sitting in a spring fed lake/stream is nice too.

Mallie said...

Since there's no reason for the girl parts to be subjected to the ice, I fill a large trash can (used only for ice baths) and dump the ice in, then I stand in it while reading, listening to tunes, etc. I fill it enough to cover the bulk of thighs, and miss the girl parts!

teacherwoman said...

Call me crazy, but I think ice baths are awesome. There's nothing like soking a sore/achy body in ice water after a long run!

bunnygirl said...

I've never done ice, but I've done Vermont tap water, which is quite cold by Southern Girl standards! I hiked a mountain, sat in a cold tub for awhile, then ran a PR half-marathon the next day. :-)

don said...

Ice/cold water baths are fantastic for recovery from long rides and runs. I do them right after my stretching. Which means that I am distracting myself in the tub by eating and drinking my recovery drink. Oh and also by laughing at the "shrinkage". It is practically an "inney" during the ice phase. Heh heh

Kevin said...

I love me a good ice bath. I feel so much better after one

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm the weird one out, I hate ice baths! I tried them a couple times (in the trash can method described above) after long runs and they just left me stiffer and sorer than otherwise.... Ice baths are just painful :-o

Pamela said...

Am I the only one that sees the irony of doning a sweatshirt so you don't get cold?

Benson said...

don said it, the "s" word.
But I do like a good ice bath too.

Colleen said...

They aren't fun, but dang it - they are worth it! Glad you've converted and welcome to the dark side!

Ange said...

It's a rare occurrence for me but you're right, they're not all that bad!
But hey! I just read your nightmare swim story!! OMG! that must have been awful. I'm so glad you're ok. Good tips for open water swimming. No matter how strong you are in the water...the ocean wins. I had a scare in a race a few weeks ago and I have a whole new outlook.
STay warm.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I'm living vicariously through others on this one. Not yet convinced that putting myself through that is a good idea. ;p

beth said...

good post! i've still never done one.

i haven't had my computer for weeks so i am just now catching up on the blogging world- your sickie swim- CRAZY!!! so glad you made it- way to hang in there!

Mon said...

holey moley this sounds insane!!!!!!

Highwaymunky said...

On your recommendation and suggestion of the benefits I tried the ice bath last night!

Fast 5k run with lots of interval sprints

run ice bath

jump in

Queue "high pitched girly squeel"
Queue testicles retreating very quickly.

legs felt great this morning resulting in 40k morning ride!

swimbikerunnap said...

another vote for regular ice baths-- they save me from suffering the day after a long run every time (now if only i could convince myself to do them EVERY time)

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