Time To Ice It
One of the best ways to treat a muscle, or muscles groups, that have been overused (i.e. after a very long run, half or full marathon), or if you are rehabilitating an injury, is to use cold therapy.
Icing is usually done as a preventive measure to avoid any problems or niggles. With any run longer than around 2 hours, I suggest following the R.I.C.E. Principles: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Remember that all 4 principles are equally important and should be used together.
Today I’m just going to talk about the icing process
There are four stages involved in the icing process and it usually takes around 15-20 minutes – Cold, burning, aching and finally numbing. The numbing process needs to take place in order for the full benefits of icing to be reached. Once you’ve hit the numbing stage, take away the ice. Cold Therapy works by reducing the amount of swelling, tissue damage, muscle spasms, inflammation and pain.
Do not apply ice packs directly to the skin; place a thin towel, hand towel or even a t-shirt in between your skin and the ice pack. If you around home frozen vegetables work great, or you can make your own ice pack (See below).
An even better way of icing after a longer run, or after running an event, is to head to the beach, lake or river and go for a dip. Ensure you get in to at least your waist and stay in the water for a good 15-20 minutes.
The most effective way to ice is to start with 15-20 minutes ON, 10 minutes OFF, and then reapply for another 15-20 Minutes. Don’t be afraid of icing too much. As long and you follow the rules of icing (15-20 minutes ON, 10 minutes OFF and then reapply), you can ice over and over again.
Homemake Ice Packs
Home made ice packs can be made by combining 3 parts water, and 1 part rubbing alcohol. In a heavy duty ziplock bag, suitable for freezers, add the water and rubbing alcohol together and freeze. You should have a hard slushy-like ice pack. Too hard, add a little more rubbing alcohol. Too soft, a little more water.