Recovery from training is just as important as the training itself. If you consistently train and do nothing to help your body recover it is likely you will end up injured or over trained. In previous blog posts I have talked about a variety of ways to recover from hard training. I talked about massage, yoga/stretching, and epsom salt baths for recovery.
Another great way to recover is ice baths. Ice baths are best done immediately after a hard workout. I do ice baths after my long workouts such as long rides or runs. Ice baths are also good after higher intensity workouts which may not be as long. A shorter workout like a track workout would be a good example. These are shorter but very intense and doing an ice bath after this type of workout is great.
The theory behind ice baths is related to the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibers. The ice bath is thought to:
• Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissues
• Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes
• Reduce swelling and tissue breakdown
• Reduce the amount of muscle soreness after a workout
Then, with rewarming, the increased blood flow speeds circulation, and in turn, improves the healing process. There is no current protocol regarding the ideal time and temperature for cold immersion routines. When I do an ice bath I do it with water temperature between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius and stay in the bath for about 5-10 maybe even 20 minutes depending on the training session.
I have a hard time doing ice baths in the winter season when it is cold. I mostly do them in the summer then again that is when my training is usually at its peak. In the winter I usually choose the warmer epsom salt baths. That is a personal preference of mine not to say ice baths in the winter are not good it is just hard to get in a tub of cold water when its cold outside. When you do an ice bath the hardest part is getting in once you are in the water the shock wears off and its not too bad sitting there.
Train Hard. Have Fun. Recover Well.