7 Tips for a More Bearable Ice Bath

Ice Bathes More BearableNoth­ing 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