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What's the Deal With: Ice Baths and Injuries

What's the Deal With: Ice Baths and Injuries

It's a known fact that immediately after an injury, whether it be from hammering your thumb instead of a nail, or heading the soccer ball with your nose, ice is the answer. An ice pack or frozen bag or peas applied to the area helps reduce pain and swelling, but have you ever heard of an ice bath? Sounds chillingly unbearable if you ask me, but if you're into long-distance running or training for a marathon, it may be just the thing you need to prevent injury that could result in time off.

According to Runner's World, ice baths are a method of cryotherapy or "cold therapy." After long runs, a soak in ice water constricts blood cells and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and prevents the breakdown of tissues. After you come out of the freezing water, the tissues begin to warm up and your blood flows faster. This helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. So not only does a soak in an ice bath help prevent inflammation, but it also flushes harmful metabolic debris out of the muscles.

Many athletes swear by these post-workout ice baths. Dotting your body with ice packs is an option, but full-on immersion in ice water is much more effective. You only need to be in the chilliness for 10 to 20 minutes to prevent injury. I was wondering if any of you have ever used ice baths. If not, would you ever consider it, or does it seem too intolerable to bear?


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