Cold or hot water for recovery?

One common misconception is that getting in a hot tub after workout or race helps aid your recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Going into a hot tub after running hard does nothing but increase inflammation in your muscles. Additionally, sitting in a hot tub can add to the dehydration that you already experience after a strenuous run. Rather than using hot water as a recovery aid, it is much better to use cold water. Cold water does a great job aiding healing and reducing inflammation.

The idea is that ice water constricts blood vessels, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. When you get out of the water, blood rushes back to the muscles, which helps flush out harmful debris. In this way, ice water not only reduces inflammation, but helps to get rid of the harmful post-running metabolic debris that increases soreness.

There are a number of ways to utilize ice water: 1) Use an actual cold water whirlpool (unless you have access to a gym, probably not feasible), 2) fill up a garbage can with water and ice, 3) fill up your tub with cold water and ice, or 4) run cold water over your legs in the shower. Be careful not to sit an ice bath too long tough (10 minutes tops)!

The Stretching Debate