Lately, I’ve discovered an exciting new way of recovering from long runs that is atypical, fast, and therapeutic: the (somewhat dreaded) weekly ICE BATH.
At first it seemed crazy because it is so opposite (at least in temperature) to my usual means of recovery: the whirpool. But when I heard from enough people (friends and family) that this worked, I had to try it.
Top 10 tips on How do do an ice bath:
1. Start small and short (5 minutes?). Maybe just use (some or all of) the ice from your fridge for the first one. You’ll find for later ice baths that’s not enough ice but it’s OK for a first attempt. Start the water a little warmer than icy (at least lukewarm) for your first one. Second one, try slightly cooler and incrementally move into more icy temperatures.
2. You might need to buy bags of ice so your family complains about their inability to consume cold iced drinks because you put all the fridge ice in your ice bath. Oops! Sorry!
3. 20 lbs of ice=a really frigid ice bath. That might be slightly too much ice. Or maybe not depending on what you wear for this. Just tried 20 lbs of ice Sat. I think I’m moving to 5-10 lbs of ice next time. Or at least wearing a swimsuit to stay slightly warmer. (My daughter says: tell everybody to wear a swimsuit during their ice bath or it will be too cold!) Doing more research, I see others are recommending a full 20 lb bag of ice.
4. Don’t go longer than 10 minutes unless you have a family member, friend, or coach watching you making sure you are ok. 10 minutes is plenty.
5. Might need a hand-sized towel to bite on like a SHARK so you don’t scream at the cold temperature when you first touch the icy water. (credit to my brother Dennis for this helpful tip). The first ice bath, it is a shock how cold the water is.
6. Might also need that towel because you might be shivering. Just drape it over your shoulders or cover your chest if you are shivering. Think warm thoughts.
7. Some folks cover their feet or wear a swimsuit to stay slightly warmer-I’m hot-blooded so I don’t. But my feet are usually on fire after my long runs so I try to keep them under the ice water. Wouldn’t it be less therapeutic to wear clothing during an ice bath? Go au naturale. (Or not if it’s too cold.)
8. Distract yourself from the cold with peaceful calming music, a podcast clip, or a 10 minute video from Youtube (you know, those ones you never take the time to watch). You can watch Dr. Who for 10 minutes! When the 10 minute timer goes off or the video ends, your ice bath is over.
9. If the water is too frigid, ease into it (feet first), or add a tiny bit of slightly warmer water. Without a thermometer, it’s hard to judge the temperature until your toes touch the ice. People that do ice baths a lot might try to keep the temperature in a certain range to ensure it is not too cold or warmer than ice baths are supposed to be. 54-60 degrees is about as cold as experts say to go.
10. You can stick your toes out of the icy water if it gets too cold but try to sneak them back in for a little more ice treatment.
These ice baths really help with recovery and relaxing tired, swollen legs and muscles. I’ve been icing my legs and feet a lot less since I started substituting ice baths instead.
I challenge you to try an ice bath at least once. Can you do it? Tell me how it goes.
With shivers and challenging ice bath running love, the Shark