Ever pulled or torn a muscle after exercising or taking part in a sporting event? What about just generally being so sore and sensitive after a grueling workout that you struggle to get upstairs into bed? If you have, then you know just how painful it can feel. Torn muscles have been known to end the career of both amateur, and professional athletes, as well as harming athletic performance as a result. If any of the above applies to you, then there is something you can do to prevent these muscle tears, aches, and general feelings of soreness from ruining your workout. Sure, you could pop some painkillers, but all they do is mask the pain, they don’t solve it. Instead, you could try using an ice bath. Now, we know what you’re thinking “An ice bath, you must be kidding!” We’re not kidding, and ice baths have a whole host of healing benefits to offer. Here’s how they work:
When you injure yourself, such as sprain your wrist or ankle, what do you do? You put a bag of ice on the injury. When you workout, you’re effectively tearing your muscle fibers, destroying them, in order for your body to rebuild them stronger. That’s why you feel sore after a workout. In order to rebuild these muscles quicker, the body needs to recover. Getting into an ice bath is a great way of recovering quickly. Imagine icing your entire body after a grueling session. The body would recover much quicker and much stronger as a result. In order to repair itself correctly, the body needs a constant supply of oxygen rich blood to be transported to the muscles. These oxygen helps the cells to repair themselves quickly, but the process also removes waste products from the muscles. Take muscle cramp for instance. Muscle cramp is caused by a build up of lactic acid in the muscles. This process helps to remove excess lactic acid. Ice baths encourage more oxygen to be produced, as well as reducing swelling, which constricts the blood vessels, and helps flush lactic acid from your muscles. This works by causing the vessels to tighten. This process squeezes waste products out of them as a result.
What are some of the other benefits?
As well as aiding in recovery and reducing swelling, ice baths also have a heap of other benefits as well. For starters, the cold actually boosts the immune system, meaning that you’re much less likely to get sick. You also feel more alert, it’s much better for the skin, as it prevents it from drying up, and it even speeds up your metabolism, allowing you to burn fat much quicker than normal. Simply fill your bath half full of cold water, add a couple of bags of ice, and climb in. It will take your breath away at first, but after you get over the initial shock, you’ll feel great. Aim for at least 10 minutes in there, and try to take your mind off the experience. Each time get’s easier and easier, so give it a try.