Cold Bath

Just completed 6.5mile run this morning, and under advice from a friend I took a cold bath afterwards.

The water was really really cold and when I got in the feeling was somewhere between cramp and pain. (I could only stay in for about 20 seconds !)

Is this any good for me ?  I am behind with my training and I need all the help I can get, so within reason I am prepared to try anything 

Does anyone else do this ??



  • Ice baths (or in this weather, just cold water baths) are brilliant for helping your legs recover.  You need to try and stick it longer ... say 5 mins.  I do them regularly after long runs and they really do make a difference.  Yes, it hurts - but you learn to get used to it!

  • Paul - you only need to take an ice bath if you are trying to minimise the amount of recovery time before your next quality running session. Muscle fibres in your legs are not normally damaged after a 6.5mile to warrant an ice bath, if you are not going running 'til the next day.

    If you were planning a fast interval session later the same afternoon, an ice bath would be warranted.  If you want your legs to feel fresh quickly (but without all the pain involved in an ice bath), just take a shower and when you are done, spend 5 mins with the water on the coldest setting and rinse your legs off.  Much easier to handle and will help to reset the legs.  Good luck. TD

  • Pavey,

    Can't even imagine getting to 5 minutes image)


    My main problem is not that it hurts when I run, but that it hurts in between runs, I need to get my distance up and i'm trying not to push too hard, (I run every other day at the moment and I've got a half marathon on Sunday) I will try the shower though, thankyou.


  • Paul - this pain in between runs is probably what is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). After a while of acclimatising to running training, it goes away.  I run 5 times a week, but if I do something substantially different (like play a hockey match or do weight training), I still get it a bit, espeically if I work/ stretch hard. It's good feedback from your body that you are working hard and not to overdo things.

    Your biggest risk is injury from over-training, making a special big effort to try and catch up, then effectively over doing it.  If the DOMS is present, don't push hard, take an easy run. Your muscles need time to repair all the micro injuries and tears to the fibres. If you push a muscle in that condition too hard, the micro injury becomes a tear and then you can't train at all.

    If you are determined to train further, consider doing two easier sessions a day than one big blow out session. Don't do two hard days on the trot. Get as much sleep as you can and eat a really good mix of carbs and protein. Also, get carbs and protein inside you as soon as you can after a workout - the body is very responsive to these nutrients within 30 minutes of stopping exercise, so this accelerates recovery. After an hour, the body will not respond so well. 

  • Tricky,

    Thanks for the reply.

    My main worry is that I don't think I am overdoing it, yes I have only been running for 6 weeks, but i'm not tired at the end of each run,and feel that I could easily go further, it's just the thought of how it feels the next day that has kept me in check.

    I am going to try smaller runs for a while and everyday to see how that goes.

    Funny you mention sleep, as before I started running I thought I was the worse sleeper, now I still get up at 5.30am everyday (I can't stop that bit), but I sleep from 11.00pm all the way through the night, which I haven't done since I was 10 (32 yrs ago).

     Running is definitely staying as part of my routine, if only to get that benefit of a good night sleep. (Nb: I also stopped drinking alcohol 6 weeks ago which may have also been part of the sleep problem image)


  • Hi

    Been a hoverer for months now but only just got round to registering my subsciption onto the site!  ..... I am training for a half and had real problems with tight calves; a combination of cold baths and compressions socks has done the trick; not sure why but I seem to have my stride lenth back and feel no stiffness after a longer run next day!

  • Hi! It might be interesting to read up a little bit more on Ice Baths, and the science behind them. Do they actually work? Well, from a sports medicine standpoint there isn't much evidence to say they promote an anti-inflammatory response or reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and more research is definitely required in the effects of Ice Bathing after HIIT sessions. There are better recovery methods out there, that have more scientific backing.

    So, then why do they make us feel good?
    The placebo effect may arise from the fact that the CWI (cold water immersion) causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the arterial vessels in the peripheries) and the feeling of the warm blood rushing in from the core when one gets out of the bath can give an invigorating feeling and make you feel good. This gives the feeling of improved perceived recovery. It also may decrease the effects of heat and humidity, if the athlete is playing or training in those types of environmental conditions, by lowering the core temperature a degree or so.

    Click my link to learn more:
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