Ice bath after training???

As there is a lot of hype about having an ice bath after training I thought I’d give it a go after my 18 miler yesterday. To be honest I only lasted a minute in the bath! Should I persevere with the ice bath in future, do other runners feel that an ice bath is off benefit?


  • If there is any benefit research suggests it is simply placebo. If there is any benifit it is probably that the unpleasantness of enduring an ice bath could increase runners’ tolerance of pain and give them a psychological edge .


    " A study carried out at the University of Melbourne had expected to find a 25% reduction in pain after 48 hours among those who had the ice immersion.

    Instead it found that there was no difference in physical pain measurements such as swelling or tenderness, and in fact those who had been in the ice reported more pain when going from a sitting to a standing position after 24 hours than those who had the tepid treatment.

    "This study challenges the use of ice-water immersion in athletes," wrote the researchers."


     Personally its a warm radox bath for me.

  • A recent study suggested if you're training, ice baths are actually a bad idea as they halt the body repairing micro-tears in the muscles, and therefore stop your muscles developing as you train. If you're doing back to back races, they have some benefit.
  • Ice baths are very painful at the time but for me at least they are worth it afterwards.

    I  just run cold tap water, no ice, about 12o C seems to get the job done.

  • I used to have them, then when the weather got colder I stopped as I just couldn't face it, and I haven't noticed any significant difference in my recovery so I'm quite happy to give them a miss from now on!

  • I personally find them useful for short-term relief if I've overdone it, and I've a feeling they may have got me back out sooner than had I done nothin. I might have on every three weeks or so, but less and less as I get better at not pushing myself too hard.

    I don't think they are particularly useful long-term, although I found them useful once when treating a sprained ankle, as compared to the recovery time for a sprained ankle I suffered at a different time.

    All of this is subjective, but a placebo effect can still be useful (certainly psychologically if nothing else) and I doubt very much the odd ice bath will harm you. Just don't overdo it.

  • image so glad that after reading this I no longer feel obliged to try a cold bath following a long run.............. yipeeeeeeeeeeeee
  • Has anyone tried mixing ice baths with warm baths?

    Also how cold does the bath have to be. I can bear about 12 degrees C but some folk go to 8 degrees or even colder.

    What do others use and how cold can u go without risking frost bite?

  • I've only ever had a cold bath once after running.

     I didnt mean to but staying in a B&B in Keswick and the landlady was as mean with the hot water as the old stories say. Ran the Keswick Half - (great race) and then back for a bath before hitting the pub. No hot water.

    My legs did feel good after - but as you say - could well be a placebo effect.

  • I can't believe I've tried these for nothing image Luckily only two in the last few months so that's not so bad image
  • Tried a 15 minute ice bath yesterday after one my 19 miles. Although am used to long runs I felt a massive improvement in my legs this morning - no pains, niggles etc...As said above might be a placebo effect but who cares ! The first 30 seconds of the bath aint joy but after a while it's ok just glad I took a paper in to read !
  • I swear by them and endure them after every long run and race (NB Cold water straight from the tap not's cold enough!!). I have experimented with having them and not having them and always feel 100% better the day after...

    The way I do it is....

    [1] Get home and run the cold bath

    [2] Make a big mug of coffee

    [3] Put on pair of trunks, fleece & wooly hat

    [4] Sit in bath with brew and aforementioned clothes (water above waist) for 20mins

    [5] Get out of bath / empty bath and refill with warm/hot water & radox bath salts (it's awesome after being in cold bath - believe me.

    [6] Get into bed and have a 1-2hr snooze.

    [7] Drink 1l REGO recovery drink.

    [8] Self massage with foam roller

  • Neil MacNeil Mac ✭✭✭

    I just gradually reduce the temp of my shower below the waste till it's bloody freezing cold and give it 3 or 4 mins spraying round my legs and lower back. Seems to do the job. Hurts like hell mind, but when you turn up the temp and have a proper hot shower it's the bizzo!!

  • I do pretty much the same as Neil... It seems to help. I'm not sitting in a bath tub full of freezing water. It's only my legs I want to treat, after all, and ice baths have the disadvantage that it's not just the legs that cop it. I found running the coldest possible water over my legs for about five minutes, then showering properly helped keep me pain free in the run up to my first ever half marathon recently. Placebo or not, it seemed to work...
  • JamesBJamesB ✭✭✭
    Cold bath on legs then a hot bath after my long runs works for me image
  • I am with the cold bath brigade too. May well be placebo, but if it works...

    I use water straight from the lift tank, no need to ice, especially in winter, the water is plenty cold enough. Except I sit in an empty bath with a big mug of tea and let the water fill around me. I find that easier than getting into a ready filled bath!

    Agree with the hot bath/shower straight after, amazing feeling. If anyone has done the plunge pool at Center Parcs you'll know what we mean!
  • Hi, I recently wrote a post with the inclusion of multiple peer-reviewed journals, and an edit by an accredited Sports Physician from Australia, who works most of the time with elite athletes. 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. I like to diversify my recovery methods across the week.

    So, then why do they make us feel good then, doesn't every elite runner ice bath?
    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:
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I don't agree with the principle of ice baths unless you are a high performance athlete in an intense competition stage such as a rugby player at a world cup, or an 80m runner at the Olympics with multiple heats over 2 days.

    The inflammation that the ice bath is supposed to take away is the body's response to the stress placed on it and is bringing vital oxygen supplies which helps repair and growth. By immediately reducing that process I think you are being counter productive. An athlete at the intense competition phase doesn't need to get stronger or fitter, they just need to recover as quickly as possible at all cost.

    After a big run I like a nice warm bath with Epsom salts, a recovery drink and a cup of tea.

  • > @Mark Bryant 3 said:
    > As there is a lot of hype about having an ice bath after training I thought I’d give it a go after my 18 miler yesterday. To be honest I only lasted a minute in the bath! Should I persevere with the ice bath in future, do other runners feel that an ice bath is off benefit?

    Your muscles will recover a lot faster. this is due to blood flow and removal of lactic acid.

    ice baths can have quite a strong mental effect, some people will feel greater levels of motivation after taking them. more strangely its been shown to make some people embrace more primal desires like walking barefoot.

    It's not 100% proven yet but its a common belief it raises white blood cells meaning you will have greater immunity from disease. I have personally felt these effects but they can prove it's the same in everyone.
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