After a weekend of struggling with low grinding pain in the back and upper right hip Monday's session four was destined to be slow. I could only make it through a partial warm-up as anything forcing the deep stretching of the lower back was just to difficult or near painful. So a lot of time was spent sitting or laying on a large inflated ball. I have one of these at home and use it daily for a variety of stretching as well as a chair at my computer desk. Everyone should own one of these exercise balls - one of the best overall exercise resources I ever adopted (and my new love for the foam roller :")
Now, the fun began. Ya know, there is a saying attributed to Goethe, "until one is committed there is hesitancy, always ineffectiveness..." so until something seems totally insane I have to trust guys like Phil and Dr. Jason. Phil's worked with athletes like David Zabriskie and Danny Pate (ok, maybe Pate, from what Tyler Farrar says, isn't a good choice), he was a USA Cycling coach, even a juniors coach, I mean c'mon, they wouldn't let him coach juniors if he was insane... would they? What Phil was about to suggest was tip-toeing right up to the precipitous ledge of insanity. Ice Bath!
He says come here and strip down to you shorts, you'll need your dry clothes for after wards - hell ya, and some thermals and a down suit as well as an electric blanket!! All the while he was dumping three bags of crushed ice into a large black bathing tub.
"Climb in there and slowly (remember we do everything slowly) submerge yourself up to your neck", with a smile as he stirs the ice like a giant slushy drink. "go ahead, and it's ok, call me anything you like, I've heard it before." Now wait! Doesn't this seem strange that someone would do this to someone knowing someone will then want to call someone profanities? He knew, I would be so frigg'n freezing that profanities (other than the initial shit!) were the last thing on my mind.
"Gerry," pausing I think to see if I'm still alive, "now go to a happy place" he says in his animated style. Are you crazy, I have no happy place that is this cold!
With shaking deep breaths I tried to think of a hot place - the deserts of western Egypt maybe, I've been there - burning sands, baking heat,... great, ... go,... quickly, get there! breeeeeath.
According to some the benefits of an Ice Bath are (from After Exercise Ice Bath & Recovery & SpeedEndurance.com):
- Helps promote neural system recovery.
- Promoted cardio-vascular system recovery.
- Helps reduce pain around joints and muscles.
- Enhances muscle fiber remodelling and regeneration
The logic [this is still being debated] behind ice baths relates to the muscle damage that results from hard workouts. This damage is actually a good thing, because the “microtears” are what stimulate new muscle growth, says Greg Wells, an exercise physiologist... in Toronto who advises several Canadian Olympic teams.
But the damage also produces muscle soreness, which peaks one or two days after the workout and can interfere with subsequent training. Ice baths cause blood vessels to constrict, forcing waste products out of the affected area. “It’s almost like wringing out a sponge,” Dr. Wells says. Then, when the area warms up again, new blood rushes in to help the healing process.
I have a general hatred for cold - most have to do with malaria - and some evolutionary hard-wiring for survival. Ice bathes are not going to be my favorite part of the reality show Me & Phil.
As Phil advised it would take a few hours for my body to fully come back around from this initial ice bath - apparently according to him and the things I have since read your body gets better at recover after future dunkings in the slushy tub - brrrrrrrrrrrrr! It did take part of the day to recover - I felt as though my entire body had been whacked.