I remember in college after a hard workout, hard track day, hard intervals, whatever it was, both the guys team and the girls team we would all cram into the training room and try to get into this tiny little ice bath. I think our record was maybe fitting seven people in there. Really, you shouldn't have more than three but we may do with what we had. This ice bathing thing has kind of become almost a religion for some athletes, runners included. But there are people now saying it's completely unnecessary. So, the point here is should you really ice bath after you run?
No doubt if you looked at anything involving ice baths, you've seen the two camps here. The one that side that says ice baths are the cure for everything. They will help you with cover faster, they'll make you faster, stronger, better, maybe even look better. Okay, maybe not the last one. But the ice bath is critical to these people. Now the other side is the camp that says no, we don’t need ice bath. Ice baths are bull...and we should completely ignore them.
Fortunately, I've actually talked to somebody who's done the research, looked into is best figured out are they efficacious at all? If you don't know, along with this show, Runner's High, I also do another show, a podcast where I interview smart athletes, the Smart Athlete Podcast. And on Episode 24, I interviewed author Christie Aschwanden who wrote the book, got it here, Good To Go. In Good To Go, she talks about the various recovery methods and kind of recovery culture that surrounds athletics right now. And one of the things we talked about in my interview with her is ice baths.
There's a lot of things that she found in these interviews and research that she went through, the things she tried and talked to other athletes about, a lot of things just didn't do anything at all. But ice baths, in particular, did have some effect. Now, if you haven't seen that episode with Christie, or if you'd like to, stay tuned to the end of this video, I'm gonna have a link to that so you'll be able to see all the advice from her. It's actually one of my shortest episodes. So, in and out, real quick, she gives you a lot of tips in that one.
But what she found with the ice bath was that ice bathing is not really great for long term benefits. The argument here is that the inflammation that happens with our body when we work out and we tear muscles, and we need to recover is actually a signal that allows our body to go to those sites, repair them and make them more resilient for the future. But there’s means that your body has to take its course, it has to fight the inflammation itself. Ice bathing does reduce inflammation just like those proponents of it say. However, when you do that, it cuts down on your body's ability to make those muscles more resilient for the long term.
The flip side here is that when you ice bath and reduce that inflammation immediately, then you're more able to perform at a high level under a short timeframe than you would be otherwise. As a runner, you can think about it in this way. If you’re base building, it's the off-season, you don't have any races coming up, you probably don't need an ice bath unless you have some kind of acute injury that you need to reduce inflammation for or doctors told you to, then follow that advice, please.
But if you're in base building, you don't have immediate race needs, high turnaround times, don't do the ice bath. That's at least what I believe Christie would suggest for you because you want those long term benefits. You want your muscles to be more resilient further down the line.
However, if it's during race season, you know okay, this weekend's ?? 04:00> I've gotta race and then Monday, I've got another track workout or you know that A it's track season now and I'm running the 800, and I'm running the 16, and somehow I'm doing the DMR. Well, ice bathing in between those events might be a way to go to help keep your level of performance up higher than it would be otherwise when you're accumulating that wear and tear, that fatigue over those events.
Obviously, that's something that depends on the facility and your coaches and all that kind of thing. But if you have the ability, that's more of the scenario where it makes sense to use the ice bath as the thing that's going to help you perform better.
So, if you want to see that interview with Christie, it should be coming up on the screen here shortly. Click on that, go see what Christie has to tell you in my interview with her. I'll see you next time on the next episode Runner’s High.