Am tiptoeing round my niggly knee at the moment. I’ve officially started my Amsterdam Marathon training programme – but have started it with a dodgy knee which isn’t great. I’ve put the problem down to stomping round a conference last week for a day… wearing heels. Not very high heels, but by the end of the day a perfectly good knee was feeling fragile. After a few days’ rest and lots of ice it’s almost fine again. Am back training, but icing religiously several times a day, particularly after training.
I also find dunking my legs in cold water after a hard run or race helps recovery, too. The jury’s still out on whether it actually does any good but after the initial gasp-making shock, I can feel my leg muscles sighing with relief.
One of my clients is an ultra runner who doesn’t believe cold water helps them but confessed that a dunk in the sea refreshed them at the end of a long day in the Namibian desert towards the end of a multi-day stage race.
Try it! My top tips for a cold bath are to part fill the bath (up to hip level, say) with water mainly from the cold tap. Wear a hat and clothes on your top half if you’re cold – just roll the clothes up your midriff so they don’t get wet. And don’t let anyone near you with a camera. Then get in quickly. It’s hideous for a few seconds then, as long as you sit still it isn’t too bad. This is the stage at which you can add more cold water… or ice.
But even if there’s no firm evidence around the efficacy of ice baths, there’s plenty that advocates ice on an injury or sore bit. As well as bags of frozen veg, you could try the paper cup method. Fill a polystyrene/paper cup with water and freeze it. Then peel a centimetre or so of cup off the top rim so that you’ve got a layer of ice exposed. You can then ice away with this, then put it back in the freezer for next time. Just peel off a bit more cup to reveal more ice as you need it.