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If you haven’t heard or just plain curious about Ice bath therapy, then you’re in the right place. World class athletes have adopted this practice, so begs the question, why shouldn’t you? Maybe you’ve tried it once or twice, and you didn’t see any changes at all. Well, are you sure you did it right? Ice bath recovery, when done properly and regularly, will speed up the recovery process of your body as well as improving your overall athletic performance. Ice bath therapy is ideally done in hydrotherapy pools for the best results.
Why should I take a bath with ice? It’s freezing!
Yes, it is chilling. Although most of us don’t like a cold shower, an ice bath right after an intense running session can actually do wonders for your body. It’s a fact that 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, as the name implies, micro.
Because of the very low temperature, ice bath also becomes 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, let’s say your calves. The good thing about the ice bath is that your other leg muscles are also being treated in the process, like your hamstring, gluteus, and quadriceps. Thus, it gives your body optimal conditions for recovery.
How can I do it at home? I don’t have a hydrotherapy pool
You don’t have to be an owner of a five thousand dollar hydrotherapy pool for you to enjoy ice bath therapy. In fact, you’ll just need a bath tub, water, and a lot of ice packs. Here are the steps that you can take to conduct ice bath therapy at home:
- Prepare a lot of ice cubes or packs
Remember that your target temperature for an ice bath is from 12° to 15° Celsius. You can make your own if you have a decent freezer, or you can buy some at the nearest convenience store.
- Fill the tub with cold water before you run
Put enough water to fill up to your waists so that the whole lower body can benefit from the therapy.
- Right after your run, 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
Things to remember
- 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.
Now, you’re quite ready to take an ice bath. The therapy will surely help you reach your athletic goals, whatever they may be. Famous athletes will tell you that ice bath therapy works great. 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 competition on schedule, you might want to 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.