Last year I finally tried taking post-long run ice baths after hearing so much about them on Twitter, and reading some of the science behind the
torture practice. (You can check out these articles from Runner’s World and Running Times). I was amazed at how fresh my legs felt after taking an ice bath, and how little delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) I experienced even after a long, hard, hilly run.
But then summer turned to fall and fall turned to winter, and the thought of immersing myself in icy water became less and less appealing. Other running friends on Twitter swore by warm Epsom salt baths, so I gave them a try. They definitely are much more enjoyable, but do they work as well?
Epsom Salt Bath–Pros
- Can keep Epsom salts on hand and ready to use after any run
- Bath itself is enjoyable and relaxing
- No need for a hot shower afterwards
Epsom Salt Bath–Con
- Does not seem to be as effective at preventing DOMS
- Seems to be very effective at preventing DOMS
- Need to remember to buy ice on the way home from my run
- Bath itself is uncomfortable–but bearable with a grande Starbucks and Twitter/Facebook distractions
- Need to thaw out with a hot shower afterwards (some studies say that the cold/hot contrast is part of the recovery process)
I have read articles saying that ice baths don’t really work, but they definitely seem to make a difference for me. I wish Epsom salt baths worked as well because they are much more pleasant, but they don’t seem to do the trick.
Have you ever tried an Epsom salt bath or ice bath?
Does one or the other work better for you?
Check out my how-to post if you want to give an ice bath a try!