I’ve become a big fan of ice baths (well not how they feel, but their benefits). They SUCK at the time but I swear they are hands down the best thing for my knee. I think that’s because they surround my whole knee with ice not just the top (icing typically involves an icepack on the top of my knee). And I am always so glad I took one…after I get out of course!
As you know from last week, I’ve decided to start taking ice baths the night before my weekly long run, rather than just taking one after the run. Here is the routine I follow when taking an ice bath (BRRRrrrrrrrrr).
1. Go buy the ice. To get the bath really cold, I need 3 bags of ice. I’ve been experimenting for awhile with this. 2 bags could work but 3 gets the water really cold and I figure hell if I’m going to be in there anyways it might as well be as cold as possible.
2. Fill the tub with cold water. This is really important: fill the tub with water before putting in the ice.
3. Make some hot tea. Sipping hot tea in the tub is a non-negotiable for me. I need it otherwise I feel like I am going to freeze to death.
4. Get dressed in my “icing outfit”. I basically wear the same type of thing for every ice bath: two socks (preferably smart wool), a bathing suit, two sweatshirts, and a hat or hood. The socks and bathing suit are absolutely 100% necessary. Without them your feet will HURT and you won’t be able to stay in the water for the necessary time (same with your lady or man “parts” without the suit on).
5. Get in the tub before putting in the ice. Also a necessary step. Getting in the water before the ice goes in makes the experience much more bearable. Do yourself a favor: get in the cold water (which still sucks) and then pour in all the ice.
6. Grin and bear it for about 8 minutes (10 tops). No seriously, try to just hang in there. Sip your tea/hot liquid. Let out a butt load of curse words. The first minute or two are the worst. When you feel your legs starting to go numb it is time to get out. Get out too soon and you haven’t reaped the benefits of the ice bath. Get out too late and you could actually do more damage. Research has now shown that after about 15-20 minutes of icing you could increase inflammation to the area because your body responds with extra blood flow (not to mention you could totally get frostbite on your skin…something that has happened to me already–not in a seriously way– and let me tell you it’s not fun). You can read more about icing here
7. If you can, have some company 🙂
8. Get out and put on some nice warm jammies. Try not to walk around too much. Ideally, you should put your legs up on a couch or bed while you feel them “thawing”.
9. Pat your self on the back and get ready for a stellar run/recovery 🙂 If you have them on hand, eat some chocolates (this being Valentines day, don’t mind if I do!)
Do you have any tips for taking ice baths (or just icing)?