Hot Bath or Cold Bath?

I had never really heard of having an ice cold bath after a long run until super Paula(respect) mentioned it on TV. But I'd like to know what is the best Post race therapy and why?
1. An ice cold bath
2. A warm bath with an Balsan bath massage(it creates massaging bubbles from blowing in air through a mattress).
3 Or a normal hot bath.
Please help Rob


  • How about a normal hot bath, but keep your legs raised out of the water, and wrapped with ice-packs applied to any dodgy parts. That's my favourite thing to do after a long run. A full "rice" effect but I get to soak in the tub for an hour or so after a couple of hours pounding the pavement.
  • I think ice baths are for the top runners who run many mile a week. For average runners 15-30 miles per week-a hot bath but ice packs on anything sore or swollen-works for me.

  • We've been using cold showers for years, and when there's snow about we use buckets of it to rub our legs down before taking a normal warm shower or bath, it really works. I read about it years ago when the then (and maybe still) over-40 world record holder Jack Foster of New Zealand (2hrs 11)mentioned he had stolen the idea from watching local racehorses coming in from the gallops and having their legs hosed down with ice water to prevent inflammation.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    A cold bath really isn't too bad if you put a towel round your shoulders, have a cup of tea and a book to read and get in before turning on the tap. I have 3 or 4 a week for about 20 minutes now - it's quite pleasant when you get used to it - much more envigorating than a hot one - honest!

    Cold showers are much harder to stick though - I take my hat off to you Ironwolf.
  • Definitely hot.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    I've only just started taking cold baths after long or hard runs and I must admit to hating doing it, but after 15 minutes or so my legs feel so much better and relaxed.
  • Ironwolf I've been in the army for 17 years and have never liked cold showers, but to do it voluntary, then you must be mad, brave and pyscho (only joking).
    I use the balsan bath in a warm bath and the bubbles help with lactic acid as im never really sore the next day.But i might try the cold baths.But also go along with Running dan perhaps you only really benifit if at the top.
  • cold baths post race... but there also nearly essential for me now pre race as well, wespecially coming into longer race season and warmer weather.

    try them, honest, i'm on three/four a week too pops and i know what you mean about invigorating, but it can be a bit demoralising and disheartening when you see the shrinkage!
  • Hi safc-ftm

    I go with the cold bath. I have only been trying it over the last month after hearing about it on these forums and since my long runs have gone over the 10 mile mark and I have to say once the feeling comes back into my legs they feel so much better.

    I have only been using them after my long runs up till now but am planning on using them to aid recovery after my speed sessions as well.

    The firs 3 times I sat in the bath and then filled it up with cold water and it was not too bad. Last Sunday I just half filled the bath with cold water and got in and it was supprisingly bareable.

    I always have a old fleece on my top half folded up so it covers my shoulders and chest and I also have a mug of hot coffee or a mug of chicken broth or minestroni soup while I soak. I also bring in a radio and listen to my fav station. This way the 20/25 minutes is up before you know it.

    I reckon you should try it at least once for yourself and see if it makes a difference.

    As for it only helping if you are at the top. I would concede that Paula is a supreme being but she is made up of the same stuff as the rest of us and therefore should have a comparable effect on our muscles.

  • OK OK
    Thanks for the advice all, the census seems to be in fav of cold baths. So I'll give it a try after my long run on Sunday for 20 mins then I'll post my comments on how it went you never know i might me converted!!
  • get in the bathb for a few minutes to acclimatise then dump in some ice. works a treat.
  • and as for only helping if youre at the top, isn't that comment coming from an advocate of the atkins diet?

    i shall need say no more.
  • I also do the cold bath thing. It is especially useful when you come back from a run (or in my case, usually a long cycle) and want to go out again soon, like to the pub. Last weekend, I raced triathlon at lunch time, went home, cold bath, and out to a party. Without the cold bath, I know I would have felt much worse... it really does work
  • cant comment on cold baths and running

    but went to turkish baths yesterday and managed to swim in the very cold plunge pool after the very hot steam room - i gradully submerged myself in the pool up to chest/shoulders and stood in it for a few mins and as i got used to it felt surprisingly relaxed - then swam a couple of lengths - its a bit like being in very cold sea - but after i found i enjoyed the heat more and was much more relaxed - didnt run or do any excercise before - but i do remember how cold showers on a camping holiday were very invigorating ans always felt very 'toned refreshed and relaxed' after so i guess that cold baths and showers are good for general health condition

    ironwolf - dont you roll around in the snow too ?
  • SAFC - eh?

    Tut tut
  • well
    i tried a cold bath last night after my speed session and found it quite relaxing! especially afterwards when i was dried and sitting down.
    i will now try it on Sundat after my long run and get it a little colder!!!

    so what are u tut tutting at WildWill?
  • wat about your manhood boys!!!!
  • I've used cold baths recently after runs of 10 miles or more or a hard legs definately feel much better the next day than after a hot bath....and as I am not exactly a fast runner and am a little heavier than I should be it is clear that the benefit is also seen in non top runners...
  • can also cheat by running a lukewarm shower over you until you aclimatise to the cold followed by a warm towel.....
  • cold bath...definatly. If nothing else then it numbs the pain for a while!
    What i tend to do is get into a warm(ish) bath then gradualy let the water out and introduce the cold in. It's less of a shock to the system this way and i find i can tolerate it for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Are you all mad, just empty out your chest freezer onto the floor, close the lid, put on the mp3 and set your Timex for 30 mins.

    ps Don't try this at home.
  • Have started them in last couple of weeks. Get bored after about 10 mins and get out. Legs definitely feel fresher.

    Why 20 mins in one? Is that based on research?

    Also, how deep do you fill it? Mine covers my lower legs, hamstrings and groin but not the quads. Should I be filling it higher?
  • Good Q
    Barnsleyrunner why is it everyone goes for20 mins i was also bored after 10 mins
    but i did fill it to cover all of my legs and over quads.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Something like icing for over 20 minutes can cause damage - but I suppose a cold bath is less severe so maybe we should up it to half an hour? I find the after 10-15 minutes you start to feel the cold is really getting inside your legs rather than just the skin.
  • definately, more of a deep cooling effect Pops
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