Dirt in your skirt blog

Day 102… The Joys Of Ice

Posted on September 16, 2011 by Margaret Schlachter

So since it’s Friday and I have designated most Friday’s as my off day I decided to stick to it. My body is still, yes still recovering from the GORUCK at least my shoulders are, my legs a whole other story they feel great. Most of all I am still tired, even last night with a night off the grid and the best sleep in weeks I am tired. Looking at my next few weeks ahead a rest is alright. So instead I will talk about one of my favorite recovery tools, the Ice Bath.

The Gospel of the Ice Bath according to Dirt In Your Skirt…

First off I love ice baths. This post was inspired by a thread that had popped up on the Spartan Chicked page. It spawned some controversy among the women, either loved them or thought no way. It was not until the other day that one of the women skeptical took her first ice bath and a day later reported back as a convert to the cause. So I guess today this one is dedicated to you Aja!

I first saw an ice bath when I was in high school after one of the post graduates who was doing three, yes three, training sessions a day walking into the trainers room and proceeded to dump all the ice from the ice machine into the tub. He watched the temperature plummet before getting in after a long bike. I thought this was crazy as he cringed his way into the tub and sat for the next 15 minutes. What sort of medieval torture is this?

Fast forward years later and I am a convert. I have found the joys and benefit of an ice bath. Most runs I do now which top over 10 miles the ice bath is the first thing I hit when I come in from a run. I go to the ice machine and fill up my bucket and truck it back to my room and dump it in when the water is almost full.

After the tub is full I take my plunge. One tip for those starting out, this can be an extreme shock to your more sensitive regions, I find wearing a bikini bottom helps greatly in this process. Also if you can keep your toes just above water if you have sensitive feet that have been severely frostbitten in the past. Skiing Racing has that effect on feet in the northeast. Now once you are in the water all you have to do it sit and wait for you 10 – 20 minutes to be up. I find good music, a phone call with a friend (on speaker phone), if you can place your computer near you Facebook is a good drain on time, or watch a movie or TV show. Basically anything to take you mind off the fact you are sitting in FREEZING cold water. At least that’s how I pass the time.

There is some science to this all,

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.”Nikki Kimball, Runner’s World

If you are into the exact science when making your ice bath the temps should range from 50 – 59 degrees, it does not need to be Arctic temps, and you should stay in for 10 – 20 minutes. I have a friend who has a cold stream near their house and they choose instead of a ice bath just spending the time in the stream with a good book.

Overall, I have found the ice bath to be a critical part of my training and has helped decrease injury and I swear a few times it was the ONLY reason I was able to walk the next day. Oh I also eat while I am in the tub and take in a 4:1 drink for recovery. 

Happy Ice Baths to you all!