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Monday, April 11, 2011

How do I soothe aching and sore muscles? With an Ice Bath!

Good grief I need a tan.
Yup, that's me sitting in an ice cold bath tub. I had just finished a hard track session (300m repeats at 1500m race pace) and ran the water as cold as could be and then tossed in 4 trays of ice cubes to help numb my legs even more. I used to take ice baths when I ran at Western years ago, but I haven't had one, was I in for a shock when I submerged my tired legs.

Taken from a Runner's World online article:
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.
I only managed to last about 7 minutes before I had to climb out of the numbness and back to reality. But I must say that what followed was simply amazing. My legs slowly returned to their normal selves and the change was drastic: they felt rejuvenated, almost like they had a new spring in their step. Other than my body feeling tired, and my calves being tight, I had completely forgot I cranked out 18km that very morning. And most of that on a track!

So now that I've been reminded of how amazing ice baths are, I think I'll incorporate ice baths into my weekly routine.  What crazy habits do you currently have in your routine to try and relieve the aches and pains of running?

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