My First Ice Bath!

I took the plunge!  After two years of running and training for three Marathons, I finally gave the infamous “ice bath” a trial run.  Sounds crazy, right?!  It turned not to be nearly as bad as I had envisioned.

 

On Saturday morning, Dustin and Luna dropped me off at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton and ran to Cleaveland Circle (about a mile after the infamous Newton Hills) which was 22.5 miles.  My pace averaged 7:46 which is pretty much on for my target pace at this point in training. As expected the course was filled with runners, water stations, cheering station etc. the energy was amazing and it definitely helped me keep the pace I was hoping for=) Oh and Dustin chatted withTedy Bruschi, the former American college  football player, who had a drink from the water station that was set up on our lawn and I passed him at the Wellesley College. Tedy Bruschi had a stroke in February 2005 at the age of 31, just weeks after winning his third Super Bowl with the Patriots. As he recovered, Tedy committed himself to being an advocate, spokesperson, and inspiration for stroke survivors in our area. That’s why he is running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the American Stroke Association.

Water Station in Front of our House

Back to my ice bath! Dustin picked me up, stopped by the store to get a bag of ice and once home, he immediately started the cold water in the tub and dumped the bag of ice in it. I pulled Dustin white T-shirt and his boxers on (no need to freeze on top!) and sat down in the cold water. The first minute was brutal! AHHHHHHH!!!!! But I have to say that after I got used to it and was able to stay in for 5 minutes (instead of 2 as Dustin planned for me). If it wasn’t for my feet that were hurting, I could have soaked for a little longer.

After the initial shock, it felt great!!! When I got out my knees, legs and feet felt so much better, and the best part I had NO soreness at all the next day. Needless to say, I am hooked! I  will keep doing the ice baths from now on after my long runs.

Why should I take an ice bath? It’s freezing!
Ice baths are one of the most effective ways to offset the damage done on a run. Long runs are essential to the training distance runners because they help the body to adapt to running greater distances safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, long runs also increase the runner’s risk of injury.  An ice bath right after an intense running session can actually do wonders for your body. Right after an intense activity, like a long run or a set of short sprints, your muscles experience microtrauma. These are small tears in the muscle fibers, which are perfectly normal for runners. You’re probably feeling some of it when your muscles hurt after an exhausting run, but you won’t feel every tear since they are, micro(small).Because of the very low temperature, ice bath is a great treatment for muscle soreness, strain, and inflammation. It also prevents the breakdown of muscle tissues. The cold water will stimulate muscle cells to start repairing the muscle tears.As you immerse yourself in the ice bath, you’ll get relief from your sore muscles, like your hamstring, gluteus, calves and quadriceps. Thus, it gives your body optimal conditions for recovery. According to a Runner’s World article these are the benefits of 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 ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.

How can I do it at home?

You can enjoy ice bath therapy right from the comfort of your own home. In fact, you just need a bath tub, water, and few ice bags. Here are the steps that you can take to conduct ice bath therapy at home:

  • Get  a couple of ice of bags at the nearest convenience store
    Remember that your target temperature for an ice bath is between 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and immersion time should ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. 10 Minutes is ideal!
  • Fill the tub with cold water right after your run
    Put enough water to fill up to your waists so that the whole lower body can benefit from the therapy.
  • Add ice
    If you have a thermometer, you should measure how cold the tub is before going in.
  • Slowly step in the tub and prepare for the extremely cold water
    You can put on a down jacket or a sweater,a hat, thick socks, and make yourself a cup of hot tea, chocolate, coffee
Things to Keep in Mind
  • Don’t stay too long in the tub
    Ten minutes should be more than enough time to stay in the tub. Stay for more than twenty and you’ll risk suffering from cold-induced muscle damage.
  • Your first few sessions will be the hardest
    It would be a great idea if you would have something to keep you warm by your side, perhaps a cup of hot chocolate or tea. You might also want to find something to do while under ice bath therapy. You could bring a running book or a magazine with you.
  • Take a warm bath or shower around 30 minutes to an hour later
    Muscles, along with the tissues, have a tendency to become stiff and tense in extreme cold.
  • There are times when you might want to jump out of the tub because you can’t handle the cold
    I would suggest that you try your best to handle it. Keep yourself motivated by keeping in mind that this therapy will help your muscles recover, thus, possibly allowing you to have a better performance in your next run.
  • Extremely cold ice baths, colder than the advised temperature, could result to fainting
    It’s always best to check the temperature from time to time. It’s also better if you let someone know that you’re in the tub with ice. Do this for safety reasons.

Not quite ready to take an ice bath? Well, thing that this therapy will definitely help you reach your athletic goals, whatever they may be. Famous athletes will tell you that ice bath therapy works amazing. They believe that ice bath therapy gives them speedy recovery, and at the same time, helps in preventing injuries. So, what are you waiting for? If you have a race coming up, you should seriously consider taking ice baths to make sure you’re 100% ready for the big day. Quickly repair that muscle damage through regular ice baths after intense running.

17 Days til my second Boston Marathon!! With a total of 663 Miles on my legs I’m feeling pretty GOOD!

Have you ever done an Ice Bath? 
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