What you do after your Spartan Race is just as important as how you prepare in the build-up. Ice Baths, Cold Water Immersion, Contrast Therapy, just a few names for the practice of getting into cold temperatures can offer many benefits.
Personally, I’ve used them for years, initially as out right sport performance benefits but lately understanding the much broader physiological, mental, emotional and even spiritual advantages.
Let’s look at Sport Performance here though.
Training and competitions create an overload to stress the body, which in turn produces fatigue followed later by improved performance.
One of the primary benefits of ice baths is improved circulation.
Upon entering the cold water, skin receptors send signals to the brain which in turn shuts down blood flow to the extremities. The body is trying to conserve heat and protect the vital organs. This is why you lose sensation eventually in the arms and legs and habituate to the cold water.
The blood vessels are now shut down, Vaso – Constriction, essentially squeezing the blood out of the muscle groups used.
Once the cold water is exited the blood vessels open up again and fresh, oxygen and nutrient rich blood floods back into the muscles groups, Vaso- Dilation. This large fresh blood flow helps to boost recovery, reduce soreness, reduce inflammation and flush out toxins that have built up during exercise.
It’s also great to use with heat such as a Sauna (contrast therapy) , its suggested to always finish on cold and allow the body to warm up naturally.
Personally, I don’t stay in temperatures under 5 degrees Celsius for more than 4 minutes, 6-10 degrees C no more than 8 minutes and 10-14 degrees C no more than 12 minutes.
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See you at just above zero