For athletes, sports persons and fitness enthusiasts alike, the key to improving physically often lies in finding the perfect fuel to build muscles quicker, and the perfect rest / recovery for muscles after training. This week we have heard about the lengths two groups go to to speed up muscle recovery. Both Tour de France cyclists and professional tennis players cite using ice baths to aid muscle recovery after intense training sessions.
Andy Murray is once again in the limelight at Wimbledon, with all of Great Britain wishing him victory. Few people realise the torture he puts himself though off court to ensure that he has the best chance of winning.
Ice Baths After Sports Training
Ice baths have been shown to increase recovery speed of muscles, tendons and bones after training. During workouts, muscles experience tiny tears, which are then repaired again, and made stronger. A 5 minute ice bath helps to speed recovery. The cold causes blood vessels to contract first, almost stopping blood flowing to the limbs. However, as soon as you leave the ice bath, blood flows back to your limbs quickly, bringing fresh supplies of oxygen which quickens recovery.
Ice Baths for Runners – Paula Radcliffe is a Fan
However, the process is torturous at first. Only the lower half of the body is treated, so they really only help athletes that do a lot of leg work. Runners, such as Paula Radcliffe, have also been known to take ice baths. Some say that just taking one ice bath a week is enough to improve performance.
Ice baths are certainly not for the feint hearted though. If you plan to start taking ice baths to aid muscle recovery, we strongly recommend that you do not do it alone. Ask a partner to provide moral support and be prepared to provide assistance too.