08-05-03, 12:21 AM
Ive been reading from a couple different sources that say its a good idea to sit in an ice bath, just enough to cover your legs, for a few minutes after a run. Anybody tried this? Is it worth it? Anyone do it after a bike ride? Im thinking about trying it for a few days to see if I notice a difference. My bike is being shipped to me so for now Im just a runner so Im running everyday.
08-05-03, 06:41 AM
huh? you're just a runner? i'm really confused... because i distinctly remember you posting something about riding with another bikeforums member.... something about how there are lots of hills in northern virginia???
08-05-03, 11:11 AM
I was in VA on college break visiting my family. I just got back here to AZ and my bike hasnt arrived yet since I had to ship it back here. As such I cant bike! which is killing me so I am just running/swimming/lifting right now.
08-05-03, 11:27 AM
What is is supposed to do for you, what benefits?
08-05-03, 04:01 PM
Its supposed to reduce soreness and flush out some of the crap in your legs. Helps with recovery for the next day.
Did it during my track days...it works if you can stand the cold.
Is ice worth it? Temporarily, maybe... overall, I don't think so.
I did a post that I'll reprint here, then do another post with why I think the ice bath is bunk.
What causes DOMS is not believed to be the enzyme, CPK (creatine phosphokinase). The indication of DOMS is the presence of extra CPK in the bloodstream after resistance training. This extra CPK can be in the blood up to 48 hours after your resistance training, but it is not the cause of DOMS.
This is fresh research I just obtained from the convention I attended- DOMS seems to be caused by the actual lengthening phase (eccentric exercise phase) of the resistance training. This lengthening of the muscle pulls the muscle fibers apart, creating a tearing, which leads to DOMS. At the cellular level, when the muscle fibers are torn, the muscle cell releases CPK from it's cytoplasm (or sarcolemma, if you want to be more technical) into the bloodstream (along with other substances, such as calcium), and that's why you see a an increase of CPK into the bloodstream. It seems as though the increase of calcium in the bloodstream may activate the immune response by attracting all those white blood cells typically seen in an inflammitory response, which also adds to that feeling of soreness experienced in DOMS.
With all that said, would massage help to alleviate DOMS? No. All massage does is "aggrevate" the torn muscle fibers, which may result in a further release of these electrolytes and the CPK (aggrevate is the only word I can think of to describe this phenomenon) into the tissues and blood. The lecturer showed us a picture of a healthy (pre-exercise) slide of muscle cross section, then showed another cross section of a muscle after undergoing repeated exercise- it looked yucky- like a Monet painting or something along those lines. It was a big 'ole mess compared to the healthy (as in pre-exercise) muscle cross section. Does massage feel good? He!! yes, it does! But does it really do any good for DOMS? He!! no. For this reason, if you're experiencing DOMS, don't expect massage to do the trick.
What will help alleviate the symptoms of DOMS is ibuprofin- ibuprofin typically works by reducing the inflammatory effects caused by the release of free radicals and calcium into the tissues.
Here's where I begin to theorize based on what I've read- can you still work out while undergoing DOMS? I think so. If you can minimize the eccentric part of the exercise, you could continue to exercise. However, this would be extremely difficult to do, but if you severely lighten your training load, you could get away with it. Often, when I am experiencing DOMS, such as when running hard and the next day, feeling muscle "irritation", I begin walking with short, jerky movements, which feels soooooooo much better than walking with longer strides. I am (subconsciously) avoiding the eccentric phase of the walking by shortening my steps and walking a bit slower than normal. Of course, everything thinks I'm just trying out a new shuffle or something, but that's not it at all! I just can't get my muscles to lengthen enough to take full steps. I'm too sore. The best thing you can do is lay off the training until the DOMS symptoms disappear, then you can resume your training again.
Now, as far as lactic acid buildup, you may feel that "burning" sensation during or just after a high intensity training session, but that is from the buildup of lactate in the blood while exercising. Remembering that fat is only burned in the presence of oxygen, when the body's demand for oxygen exceeds what is being taken in, anaerobic threshold is reached, and the body begins using other energy sources in the body to meet the demands of the body.
There is an enzyme in the fat burning process that drives the Krebs (or citric acid cycle) Cycle- the Krebs cycle is the mechanism in the body's cells that facilitates fat breakdown to ATP+ carbon dioxide +water. This enzyme is called pyruvate. It is an enzyme that is used early in the Krebs cycle, and when oxygen is present, the oxygen will react with ions outside of the mitochondria (mitochondria are structures, or organelles located in the muscle cells)- this ion, which reacts with the oxygen will then allow the pyruvate begin the Krebs cycle when the pyruvate enters the mitochondria, resulting in the production of ATP- the molecules of energy needed to contract the muscle to do further work.
When oxygen is lacking, the Krebs cycle is largely arrested (there will always be a small amount of pyruvate that will enter the Krebs cycle because the only time we don't have oxygen present is when we die! which is what they call rigor mortis...), and the pyruvate is converted to lactic acid through glycoloysis, which is inefficient, because the glycolysis breakdown produces less ATP. This process (or the steps involved, rather) is short- and when the body is in anaerobic mode, it needs ATP right NOW, so it takes glucose from wherever it can get glucose quickly. Fats take a long time to break down, BUT we all know that glucose is located in its free form in different parts of the body- like in the muscles, in the liver, etc. The body will grab these free glucose molecules and use it instead to undergo glycolysis, resulting in the end product of lactic acid and only a few paltry ATP. This system is largely inefficient, as a lot more ATP is required for high intensity demands, so eventually, you will either slow down to the point where you will bring in more oxygen, which will lead to more fat metabolism, or you will cease completely from exercise.... whichever comes first. BUT... this buildup of lactate in the muscles creates an acidic environment, which causes the pain you feel in the legs (burning sensation) when the lactic acid builds in the legs. As soon as you get enough oxygen in the legs, the oxygen will then cause the krebs cycle to resume again, and the lactic acid will be used in the krebs cycle to begin burning fats again. As the lactic acid slowly is converted to pyruvate and enters the krebs cycle, you'll notice the burning sensation leaving the legs. That is why lactic acid buildup could not occur because of lactic acid buildup.
Here's the catch in the difference between lactic acid reuse for krebs and DOMS.... the CPK enzyme, which is used to convert ADP to ATP is USED in the conversion of lactic acid back to pyruvate to produce the ATP.... the basic reaction happening during Krebs is:
ADP +P (with CPK present)-> ATP
Soooooo..... there is not an excess of CPK in the blood when the lactic acid is reused. DOMS is different (re-read the explanation of why CPK is in the blood and do the side by side comparison).
Overtraining has something to do with DOMS, but it ranges beyond that- overtraining is simply not allowing the body enough time to recover from strenuous activity. Overtraining messes with your hormonal levels, releases free radicals into the bloodstream, increases the stress hormones into the body by overstimulating the adrenal cortex, and can cause symptoms of depression, and even sickness in some cases. You'll often feel a run down feeling, accompanied by some other feelings of sickness. When I'm at my most overtrained, I'm feeling like I want to vomit, I feel like I need to sleep all the time, and I am sore and achy. The symptoms vary with different people, but you will experience some of these symptoms. Overtraining can be experienced for a short time if you catch it early, but if you're pushing yourself constantly, the symptoms will intensify until your body makes you slow down, and that's no fun. We all know better- don't overtrain!
So, can ice reverse the damage caused by the tearing of the muscle? No, but it can help with short term damage control- when using ice, it does help (in the RICE treatment) with controlling swelling caused by inflammation and swelling. However, this is a short term solution, and does not contribute to DOMS treatment. What does contribute is rest, and for alleviating the feeling of soreness, you can take ibuprofin.
As far as using ice, the rule of thumb is to not have ice on your skin long enough to cause skin damage- I've seen warnings that say to remove ice off the skin in as little as 5 minutes from the time you begin application to up to 20 minutes from the time you begin application of the ice to the skin. It's up to you, but continue to check the skin- if you start seeing the signs of skin damage, stop using the ice.
Ice baths, though? I think that's a bit extreme. I think a lot of people who like to think of themselves as "hard core athletes" go back to those silly, old school methodologies for training and recovery, when there are MUCH better ways of training that the professionals know better to use- put it this way... if ice baths were REALLY that good, every dude riding in the Tour would have had an ice bath waiting for them in the team trailer as soon as they got off their bikes! If ice baths were really that beneficial, every athlete from the Olympics would be icing down between events... they don't. Remember when it used to be the "in" thing to drink a glass of raw eggs? That was, until people started getting salmonella poisoning... Don't fall for it.
If you really want to improve on your running, I suggest getting a running coach who is legit and can take you through proper techniques, training tips, and recovery practices. Or attend a seminar given by a runner/coach in the field- Jerry Lynch comes to mind. He's written lots of books on running, and he's really good with the lecturers. I've had friends attend his lectures and come away new runners.
If you're that concerned about your legs, maximize your time off- if you can get 20 hours between running and make sure that you don't do any leg workouts. Then do make sure you vary your workout routine, and you should have 1- 2 days off depending on what you're doing while you're working out.
All right, good luck.
08-07-03, 09:03 AM
Top marathon runners such as WR holder Paula Radcliff use ice-baths after every hard long run. My brother tried it and said it reduced recovery time (for a race) from a couple of days down to one night.
I still say ice is a temporary measure, not a cure all, as some may think.
I certainly think that people can think they benefit from ice baths- if they believe it will work for them, then it will work for them. As I pointed out before, I think that ice baths can temporarily work to reduce swelling, BUT that for overall recovery, it's rest and down time that's needed.
It's unfortunate that with all the newest technology and studies coming out, people tend to go back to the old school style training, rather than taking advantage of the education and technology out there that could probably increase their performance to the next level. I know people tend to be critical of Chris Carmichael and how Lance Armstrong trains with him, but they are the most obvious example of using technology to the extreme to produce maximum results with smart training. Chris is a coaching genius...