Hot Soak after a Long Run? Not Recommended but I Do It Anyway

soaker-tub-500x246I’ve long been a fan of soaking in the tub. When I was a kid, we used to bath way more than shower, and it was always something I associated with relaxing and winding down.

So when I go for a long run on a cold winter day, there is nothing I like more than to run a hot bath with some bath salts or epsom salts. I love it so much I’ve been recommending it to my running buddy, Anita. She’s perhaps the only person I’ve ever met who literally does not enjoy baths. I don’t even get it. What could be more soothing?

The fact is, after a long run, heat is not recommended — they say that if anything is inflamed, the heat will just make it worse.

But I’m sorry, I will never be opting for the recommended tub option for post-long run recovery: the ice bath. Apparently, the ice bath is a great way to offset “the damage done on a run:”

In “Should I Soak in Hot or Cold Water for Best Post-Run Recovery,” Christine Luff writes:

An ice bath will help reduce inflammation of tissues and joints, relieve soreness, and speed up your recovery. Just fill your bath tub with cold water and get in, so your body can adjust to the temperature. Then dump in one or two 5-pound bags of ice (as tolerated). Stay in the tub for 10 minutes.

Nikki Kimball says this of her post-run ice bath:

Over those years, I’ve discovered tricks to make the ice bath experience more tolerable. First, I fill my tub with two to three bags of crushed ice. Then I add cold water to a height that will cover me nearly to my waist when I sit in the tub. Before getting in, I put on a down jacket and a hat and neoprene booties, make myself a cup of hot tea, and collect some entertaining reading material to help the next 15 to 20 minutes pass quickly.

You can do what she recommends, or you can defy the research about inflammation and go for what feels good. To my mind, that’s a hot bath on a cold winter’s day.  It’s about so much more than just getting warm. Dim the lights and light some candles. Play soothing music. Pour in some oil or fragrance that makes the water smell good. If there’s anyone home, tell them not to interrupt you.

See this Wiki-How on “How to Relax with a Hot Bath.”  Anita, that’s for you.

If you need more tips, check out this. (I personally am not one for snacking in the tub, but it might work for some).

What about you? Do you like a hot bath? Do you associate it with any sort of post-workout routine? Or are you partial to the therapeutic benefits of an ice bath?



7 thoughts on “Hot Soak after a Long Run? Not Recommended but I Do It Anyway

  1. I have always done a hot bath vs a cold one. I tried an ice bath once after my first 20 mile run and I felt it was completely miserable and I didn’t feel any better after it was over.

  2. For me it’s all about outside temperature. Cold spring and fall bike rides? I love to hang in the hot tub, clean bikes, and extend the social time. Hot summer rides? My fave is to jump in a cold lake after. Lots of that on the bike rally. Again, with friends.

    I associate ice baths with my sporty kid and team sports. Not me.

  3. After both days of the Seattle-to-Portland ride (105 miles the first day, 100 the second), we jumped in the (cool, not cold) pool at the hotel and then the hot tub, and jumped back and forth a few times. VERY little soreness for day 2 and the day after.

  4. I never run, but after working out i take a hot shower to relax my muscles…. i think i would feel sore after a cold one?!

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