Nothing unites runners like our collective loathing of the ice bath. Okay, beer will usually do the trick too, but ice bathes have more of a productive end result.
Most runners understand that ice bathes are a healthy, natural, and low cost way to boost muscle recovery and prevent injuries following long runs, particularly brutal workouts, or races. However, many still opt to skip them due to the extreme discomfort of lowering your tired, sore limbs into a vat of, well, ice water. You don’t know pain until you have had chaffed and bloodied nipples harden to rocks while surrounded by ice water.
Although any amount of time spent in the ice bath is helpful, 10 minutes is the general minimum goal for seeing noticeable results. Ten minutes in an ice bath is roughly equivalent to an hour in hell or listening to an entire Justin Bieber album. Here are a few tricks to help you suffer through a few extra minutes in your next ice bath, as every minute longer you can endure it, the more your body will thank you later.
Cover your top!
For the ladies, keep that sports bra on, and maybe add a long sleeved shirt or sweatshirt tied up with a rubber band to keep it from dipping in the water. For women or men, wear the warmest winter hat and scarf you can find!
Start warming from the inside.
Just because your ass may be freezing off, doesn’t mean your insides have to suffer too. Warm yourself back up from the inside out with a hot cup of cocoa, tea, mate, or steamed milk – just don’t hold it too close to your bare chest while you’re still shaking hard from the initial cold shock – you’ll still get burned!
If you’re lucky enough to be able to successfully meditate and bring your mind out of current situations, this would be the perfect time to do so. You can turn inward and focus on the aching muscles you are ultimately doing a huge favor, or you could meditate your mind to a much more enjoyable – warm – place.
Crank it up
For those of us who can’t meditate our way out of a paper bag, music is a great way to distract your mind from the numbing cold, whether you force yourself to sing along, bop your head to the beat, or simply do your best to let the music take your mind somewhere – anywhere! – else.
Get your mitts on me!
Not only is it fun to wear mittens in the bathtub, but it may help you keep your mind focused on something other than how freakin’ cold you are. It’s quite the trip to try and maneuver around in a bathtub while donning wool mittens and avoiding slipping or putting your hands down.
Count on it
This is a great trick for any time of high anxiety, extreme fatigue, or other uncomfortable situations (such as trying not to hyperventilate in a tub full of ice water). Counting is naturally rhythmic and easy to “lose” oneself in; a very welcomed mental ‘trick’ while convulsing in painful cold.
Bet on it
Whether you can trust yourself to own up to losing a bet with yourself, or if you need to bet with a friend, partner, or family member to hold yourself accountable, come up with a time minimum you want to stay in the tub, and a truly undesirable consequence if you wuss out.
Ice bathes are rough, but hopefully you can find some solace in knowing that they suck for everyone. If you’ve discovered a little gem not on this list that keeps you in the tub longer, please share! We’re all in this together; we all just want to stay healthy and keep running.
By: Audra Rundle