Benefits Of Ice Baths For Runners
When it comes to weighing up whether you should take a long hot soak or an invigorating ice bath after a long-distance run, we can see why you’d lean towards to warm bubble bath. However, if you do choose to brave an ice bath, there are several benefits to doing so. In our latest post, we’re detailing 10 super benefits of ice baths for runners. Even if you’re not too keen on the concept of a freezing cold bath, by the end of this article, you might be convinced, so stick with us! Comparing hot and cold is like comparing day and night, there are different benefits to each, so you need to understand whether a hot or cold form of recovery is best suited to you.
Firstly, it’s essential that you understand what an ice bath actually is. Often referred to as cold water immersion recovery, ice baths are a method of cryotherapy. The reap the benefits, you should be submerged up to your chest for around 10-15 minutes at a temperate of between 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit. Although for your first rodeo, those minutes will feel like a lifetime, over time, you’ll build up a tolerance and may even grow to enjoy an ice bath.
Now, let’s get down to the benefits:
- Cold water causes the constriction of your blood vessels, helping to reduce any inflammation.
- Furthermore, it will work to relieve pain by numbing any affected tissue and muscles as the blood vessels narrow.
- Once your body is no longer in contact with the iced water, the underlying tissues will warm up. As they warm up, it will cause a faster return of blood flow, which ultimately helps to move the by-products of cellular breakdown.
- It can speed up the process of recovery after runs. If you’re able to strategically use ice baths after your most intense runs and training days, they can help you to recover quicker as part of an effective plan.
- They can help you to control your breathing. When you take the plunge into an ice bath, you’ll become more mindful of your breathing, something of which will help you with your running as much as it aids recovery.
- They can flush away the build-up of toxic lactic acids. Contrary to popular belief, an ice-cold bath can indeed melt away the effects of the build-up of toxic acids.
- They can accommodate natural movement the day after a long run. If you find yourself feeling stiff after a mammoth run, an ice bath can help you to be a little more agile the following day. Worth the 10 minutes of discomfort surely?
- The increase in blood flow caused by an ice bath will also flood your cells with oxygen and nutrients that will help your body to recover faster.
- They can help to prepare you for difficult conditions you may face when running. We’re not necessarily referring to the temperature, but the mental challenge of enduring an ice bath. Challenging your body in such a way may well come in handy when it comes to breaking through those psychological barriers as you run.
- Ice baths can have a positive effect on the body’s central nervous system, which may lead to a better night’s sleep, a real benefit after a lengthy run!
Full disclaimer, further research needs to be carried out to support the benefits of taking an ice bath for them to be backed by science. In the meantime, if an ice bath benefits you in any way, then you should most definitely hop into a cold bath post-run.