The Ice Bath has long been associated with recovery from running. The theory goes that the cold water helps to reduce inflammation in our sore and beat-up muscles. Fortunately, it looks as though recovery from your marathon training may be a lot more enjoyable.
Running is hard enough as it is, so adding in 10-minutes of sitting in freezing water afterward is not very enticing. Studies actually now show that markers of inflammation and potential soreness are not reduced by cold-water.Still, it remains popular with athletes of all abilities.
Research out of Sweden has indicated that heating your muscles can aid in recovery, while the old method of cooling actually slows the process down. The only catch is that you have to eat first. Food, then sit in a hot tub… Sounds good, right?
One of the main reasons that our muscles give out is that they run out their fuel: glycogen (a substance deposited in tissue as a store of carbohydrates), so tests were done to determine whether or not temperature affected how much glycogen our muscles can absorb before being used again.
It turns out that muscles recovered faster and were able to regenerate power after they had been exposed to heat, but only if they had first been refuelled with glycogen after exercise.
30 minutes after running is a great time to replenish muscle glycogen stores and get rehydrated. A favourite amongst marathon runners is chocolate milk given its 4-to-1 ratio of carbs-to-protein.
If you’ve currently in the midst of training for a marathon and are sore after a particularly tough run, then treat your aching legs to a hot bath or head to a hot tub/sauna. The recovery will help you bounce back faster and get the most out of your next run or race.