So your training is going well for you’re a-race; eating well, following your training programme religiously, happy with your kit… but have you considered how you recover?
Why do athletes take ice baths?
Whilst there is a certain satisfaction when the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) kick in that you know you have pushed yourself hard, the reality is that muscle soreness is the result of micro tears in your tissues. This in itself is an important process in building muscle as your body continues to adapt to the new demands you are placing on it. Repeated ‘damage’ of this nature however can result in a build up of waste products and dead cells, hindering muscle function and therefore performance.
You probably already use post event stretching, massage, compression clothing as recovery tools, but have you braved venturing into ice baths? It sounds like ‘something the professionals use’ but their muscles sustain DOMS in the same way as yours and mine.
Effective when completed within 48hours following a hard training session or race (obviously the sooner the better), ice baths help to:
– Constrict blood vessels
– Reduce inflammation
– Encourage increased blood flow, removing waste products
Research recommends submersing your whole body where possible, but if the thought of that sounds entirely unpleasant, then just enough to over your legs post run helps just enough.
A word of caution however… tissue inflammation and the natural recovery process associated with this is an important aspect of adaptation to training. Ice bathing is therefore not recommended after every session, but is an additional tool to massage, compression clothing, stretching etc, following very hard sessions or tough race.
If you would like further advice on recovery, why not book in to see one of our Physios, who can provide you with a tailor made programme of stretches and massage to support your events this summer.