August 6, 2008 at 2:33 pm #11462
I’ve read the posts about ice baths speeding recovery. Haven’t convinced myself that I want to try that yet. What about hot tubs? Is there any credible information that indicates that a good soak in a hot tub speeds recovery? Or does the heat exacerbate inflammation of microscopic injuries to muscle and make things worse?August 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm #108085
yeah think the ice is the way to go. something about the ice helps push out the lactic acid and decreases swelling. think that is why when you get injured they tell to ice up not take a big hot soakAugust 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm #108088
Think about it this way, when you’re in a ice bath the blood from your extremities moves to your core to keep a stable core temperature… it’s some cave man survival thing. conversely when you’re in a hot-tub your blood tries to distribute throught your system to help cool you off. If you have sore muscles you’d want the lactate to be removed, the ice will cause your blood to move away from that area and with it flesh out the lactate and reduce swelling (less blood).
It’s science.August 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm #108089
Heat = increased blood flow to the area
Cold = decreased blood flow to the area
So Joe_H is right that you want cold not heat.August 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm #108102
The only way lactic acid can be removed is by blood flow (LA diffuses from muscles to capillaries and is carried away by the circulatory system). So I think a hot tub that would increase blood flow would get rid of lactic acid better than an ice bath. Also, things diffuse much more quickly at higher temperature, so the hot tub would help here too. You ice someone after you injure it to keep swelling down because by icing it you slow down the blood coming to that region and causing it to swell.August 6, 2008 at 5:15 pm #108106
Ice baths are not comfortable but they are the way to go.
I got a garbage can, get a couple of bag of ice, and fill with a hose.
I fill it just high enough so the ‘Boys’ don’t get dunked (I can’t handle that)
I step in and stay there for a few minutes and step out, then I get back in.
I do this for about 20-30 minutes.
I’ll repeat this a few hours later.
Wait a couple of days for a hot tubAugust 6, 2008 at 5:54 pm #108119
i like a good hot tub soak, but to speed recovery go with ice. a joke among chiropractors i know is the best way to get a repeat patient is to prescribe heat.
note – lactic acid is not the issue here.August 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm #108121
Good Article from Running Times
Owner’s Manual: Chill Out
Better recovery with ice baths
By Stephen Mirarchi
As featured in the September 2006 issue of Running Times Magazine
With the last of the junior sprinters pulling in 65-second 400s, a grueling interval workout grinds to a close at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Florida. Coach Eddie Ernest Jones, a 1:05 half-marathoner, glances over his gasping crew and intuits exactly what their burnt-out bodies require. “Ice baths!” he barks, and the tumultuous cacophony of outrage and joy that issues from the students expresses perfectly the mysterious, Gothic aura surrounding this frigid recovery tool.
Mythic as it may sound, ice bathing has caught on among the elite. A photo on Paula Radcliffe’s site shows the marathon world record holder relaxing her legs in a chilly stream. Meb Keflezighi’s preparation for the 2004 Olympic marathon included similar daily soakings. Saint Andrew’s athletic trainer Craig Ashley, who holds a Master of Science degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences, says that hydrotherapy’s benefits span the anatomical spectrum: “Ice immersion is a very effective modality in the treatment of subacute injuries or inflammation, muscular strains, and overall muscular soreness.”
From lacrosse to football, athletes of all seasons consult Ashley with their pains, often to be pointed to the infamous “wet room” where the galvanized tubs reside. Why not simple ice packs? “When an individual removes an ice pack after the typical 20-minute application, temperatures within the muscles increase instantly,” Ashley explains. Packs may suffice for surface-level pain, but for deep, lasting treatment, baths can’t be beat. “Even after the conclusion of the treatment,” Ashley says, “the muscles will continue to cool.”
For runners in particular, ice baths offer two distinct improvements over traditional techniques. First, immersion allows controlled, even constriction around all muscles, effectively closing microscopic damage that cannot be felt and numbing the pain that can. You may step into the tub to relieve sore calves, but your quads, hams, and connective tissues from hips to toes will gain the same benefits, making hydrotherapy an attractive preventive regimen. Saint Andrew’s cross-country coach John O’Connell, a 2:48 masters marathoner, will hit the ice baths before the ibuprofen. “Pain relievers can disguise injury,” he warns. “Ice baths treat both injury and soreness.”
The second advantage involves a physiological reaction provoked by the large amount of muscle submerged. Assuming you have overcome the mind’s initial flight response in those first torturous minutes, the body fights back by invoking a “blood rush.” This rapid transmission circulation flushes the damage-inflicting waste from your system, while the cold water on the outside preserves contraction. Like an oil change or a fluid dump, the blood rush revitalizes the very areas that demand fresh nutrients.
Even if you don’t have access to a $5,000 hydrotherapy pool, you can set up the same ice bath at home. Modern research points to 12–15º C or 54–60º F as the ideal ice bath temperature range; remember that the temperature will rise steadily with your body heat. Significantly colder baths offer no additional perks and can actually perpetrate cold-induced muscle damage or spontaneous fainting—a good reason to have a friend watch your back while sharing in the misery.
Once you feel the blood rush around the six-minute mark, stay in for a couple more minutes, but don’t overdo it. Muscles and tissues can tense up with too much cold, and to avoid tightness you should take a warm shower 30 to 60 minutes later.
Though ice immersion may seem fantastic from afar, the superior recovery from your toughest days will find you burning a path back to your bath sooner than you think.
Stephen Mirarchi holds a Ph.D. in American Literature and is a seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon in Saint Louis. He celebrated his first half marathon, run in 1:23:57, with a cold bath and a colder beer.
Copyright © 2008 Running Times Magazine – All Rights Reserved.August 6, 2008 at 6:31 pm #108126
The chiropractor recommended soaking my left ankle (tendonitis) in ice after I work out, so I went ahead and started taking the full ice bath, works pretty well. Fill up the tub with cold tap water and give your body a couple of minutes to adapt, then throw the ice in. Its actually a nice way to unwind after a long workout and seems to help in recovery.August 6, 2008 at 6:55 pm #108129
Ice baths have saved my legs more times then I can count.August 7, 2008 at 12:40 am #108170
Sully800Participantrsstowe wrote:The only way lactic acid can be removed is by blood flow (LA diffuses from muscles to capillaries and is carried away by the circulatory system). So I think a hot tub that would increase blood flow would get rid of lactic acid better than an ice bath. Also, things diffuse much more quickly at higher temperature, so the hot tub would help here too. You ice someone after you injure it to keep swelling down because by icing it you slow down the blood coming to that region and causing it to swell.
But you don’t want the blood to stay in your legs, and heating them up will keep the blood there. An ice bath causes the blood to go to your core, restricting the veins and arteries in your legs to force out the toxins and lactic acid. Then when your body warms back up, the clean blood flows back into your legs and your recovery has been dramatically hastened.October 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm #144266
There’s a great article at about addressing the question: Should I soak in hot tubs or cold water for the best post-run recovery? Read it here: http://running.about.com/od/injuryrecovery/f/icebathorhottub.htm
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