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The Benefits Of Ice Bathing For Recovery

Feb 28, 2020


By Chelsey Rose

Ah I ammm sitting in bed, on my second cold brew at 8:30am, wondering if I can go get a massage again today from my new boyfriend Jack. (aka the amazing little asian man who is my new go to at the thai massage place I'm obsessed with). I wonder what his real name is&

Anyway. I'm training for my first 1/2 marathon AND first sprint triathlon at the moment&

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Up until a few months ago, I hadn't RAN outside for more than 15 minutes in like&a year maybe? But for 2020 my big goal is to focus on setting new personal bests for myself. I figured signing up for both of these would be a good way to push myself but like DAMN&my shins, my hips and my feet are not happy today (which is why I need JACK).

I don't care about my time (I kinda do) during the races because my main goal is just FINISH them BUT before that, my biggest goal is to not get injured. So yesterday I went on my longest practice run so far. I've been running 3-5 miles every weekend for the last 6 weeks so yesterday I headed to the beach and bumped it up to 7 miles.

I was suhhh proud of myself because I didn't stop running, and I actually didn't even feel that tired. Honestly I felt like I got second wind after mile 5 which sounds insane BUT as I started mile 6, my freaking kneeeeees dude. They failed me. I ran through the 7th mile and then walked straight into the ocean for an immediate cold therapy relief for my feet, ankles and knees.

I gotta say – as yesterday progressed, I noticed that my knees and ankles were no where NEAR as sore as they had been while running but I noticed that my hips we're super sore and I wonder if it's because I didn't get my hips into the water.

So I wanted to go over the benefits of ice baths with you guys because I think a lot of you would really benefit from them! I have been focusing on strength training for the last 20 or so months and have found that recovery is pretty easy with sleep, water, and stretching but this endurance training requires a different kind of recovery.



When you sit in the cold water, the blood vessels constrict, then when you get out they dilate which helps flush away metabolic waste post-workout. This helps reduce inflammation and improve recovery as it changes the way blood is flowing through your body while sending tons of nutrients and oxygen to your cells.


The central nervous system essentially control the activities of the body, so it's safe to say that it's getting worked hard and often. What's cool is that through training we can essentially make the CNS adapt to what we need to do. For example, if I try to hip thrust 400 lbs and that bar doesn't even budge, that's my CNS is signaling to my muscles to STAND DOWN – this weight is too heavy for my muscles right now so my CNS will protect me by now allowing me to move the bar.

So of course I would peel some weight off and try again. Even if I take 10 pounds off and only get 1 rep, that 1 rep does SO much for my CNS because it exposes the central nervous system to the weight and starts to prepare the body to be able to lift that weight again. Then eventually my muscles will be strong enough, the CNS will feel safe and then before you know it, I'll hip thrust 400 pounds!

If you feel fatigued or things start to feel really heavy, that's your CNS tapping out and telling you you need a break.

ANYWAY – back to ice baths. The ice bath helps stimulate your CNS which can help improve reaction time and explosiveness in future workouts while also boosting mood, attitude, and sleep.


The vagus nerve connects to many parts of the body as it goes all the way from your head to your bum. When you do an ice bath you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system while decreasing the sympathetic nervous system which is your “fight or flight” system.


I thought this was interesting. Instead of using the ice bath AFTER training, some people will have an ice bath before competing in a race for example in a new hot or humid area because it can lower the core body temperature a bit which can lead to improved performance.

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To my surprise – you don't actually HAVE TO have ice in the water in order to get the desired benefits..the water just needs to be 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

You don't want to stay in the ice bath for too long, so aim for 10-15 minutes (which to me sounds EXTREMELY long but okay haha).

If you have a pre existing cardiovascular disease or low blood pressure, it's not recommended that you do ice baths as the decrease in your core temperature may put you at risk for hypothermia, a heart attack or stroke.

I will keep you guys updated on how I feel like they help me while training over at my insta @chelseyrosehealth ! I honestly feel like right now while it's still early in the year, it was nice to run at the beach then walk directly into the water afterwards. Give it a shot before it get's too warm! Leave a comment if you have any other tips you love for recovery or if you have any thoughts on the ice bath situation!


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