Many runners head to the hot tub after they've completed a hard race or a long run. They think that a nice long, hot soak is what they need. Actually, this is one of the worse things that they can do. And, I'll admit it. I used to finish up a long run and head up to my Jacuzzi tub, fill it up with hot water, get the jets going and then soak and soak and soak. I really didn't think that I was doing anything wrong. Then, I did a little research.
After a hard workout, such as a race or long run, your joints, tissues and muscles will be inflamed. If you sit in a hot tub or use a heating pad, you bring more blood flow to those areas and they will become even more inflamed. So, even though that nice, hot bath may sound like a good idea - and possibly even feel good at the time, it's not a good idea and can actually increase the time needed to get over the workout.
Another reason to skip the hot tub or hot bath is because of hydration. When you are finished with your workout, you will probably be a little dehydrated, whether you think you are or not. If you jump into a hot tub, you may get even more dehydrated - again, not a good thing!
What you can do to help with the healing process is an ice bath. To do an ice bath, fill up your tub with cold water and then put 5 pounds of ice in it. You want to stay in the ice bath for 10 minutes.
If you just can't stand the thought of soaking in an ice bath (and I'm definitely one of you), you can use ice packs or even packs of frozen veggies on your sore areas. You will want to do this for about 15 minutes. The ice will help relieve the soreness and the inflammation of those joints. This, then, in turn will speed up your recovery.
But, don't think that you have to give up your hot tub altogether. After your run, do your cool down. Ice those sore muscles and drink lots to water to get rehydrated. Then, after an hour to hour and a half - it's alright to get in the hot tub. Just make sure that you are cool down properly before you indulge yourself with your soak.
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