Taken An Ice Bath

"How many women have the courage to start properly with a cold, cold bath early in the morning? I jump in, throw the water, cold as ice, and after the first plunge I am happy."
Anna Held

Cold water immersion or ice baths are used often in sports medicine to counteract some of the effects of a bout of strenuous physical activity and reduce the risk of injury. This type of treatment is called cryotherapy, and it constricts the blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, reducing both swelling and tissue breakdown. It helps relieve inflammation, which means less soreness the next day. While cold packs applied to the skin also work, immersing the muscles in cold water is much more effective.

I had always wanted to try this, but I had never planned ahead to do it. The key is to have a ton of ice ready for the occasion, so I went to the store and bought three bags of ice.

I thought it would be appropriate to put myself through a reasonably tough
CrossFit workout. I put the three bags of ice in the bath tub while I went downstairs and did this in the garage:

Three rounds for time of:
1000m row
50 burpees
50 box jumps, 24"
800m run

This was a grueling workout. I thought I was going to shake hands with Pukie quite a few times. After crawling my way back up the stairs, I filled the bath tub with cold water and put the ice in it (excuse the 70's tub grip flowers).

I opened the bags of ice and started separating the pieces from each other to get a more even cold distribution.

I measured the water temperature to make sure it was cold enough. The optimal temperature for a cold bath is between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 Celsius for you metric folks). I was close, and maybe a little below what it's supposed to be.

Now that the temperature was close to where I wanted it, I hopped in, and it was not pleasant.

I stayed in the tub for 5 minutes. I set a timer and committed to that amount of time. The first 2 minutes were absolutely brutal. It is just such a shock to the skin, but after that initial pain, it's mostly numb at that point and then totally bearable.

After the five minutes were up, I got out of the tub and noticed my legs and feet were so red.

Eventually, I dried off and my body returned to normal temperature. I definitely think this was something worth doing because I'm sure the more often you do it, the less painful it is. Like I said, after the first few minutes, it's not really not so bad, and if it helps reduce soreness, it could totally be worth it.

As it turns out, I think the bath really did help because I was not too sore the days following the bath. I would recommend trying this if you know you're doing something that is going to be very strenuous. Good luck and happy training!
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