Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blue Stains, Smurfs, and Icing Techniques for Runners

My couch is now covered by slightly sticky blue gunk. No, I didn't do anything improper with a smurf smurfette, my icepack sprung a leak! Ug.

Ice is a great thing for a runner. It reduces swelling, reduces pain from injuries, and aids in recovery. As you get older, these wonderful properties become increasingly important to your running career!

The ideal thing is to take an ice bath after exercise. Ie, put enough ice and cold water in your tub to submerge everything below the waist. Ice baths can pose logistical challenges: not everyone has a tub, and how to get enough ice. And they can pose other kinds of challenges: shrinkage and general discomfort. It takes a special person to dunk themselves in ice.

From what I have heard from various sources on "the Internets", from elite runners I know, and my own personal experience, 15 minutes is as long as you want to ice. Less is ok too. Also, you really don't want to dunk your core torso in ice water. It's not needed, and could be dangerous. Don't be a dumbass.

For those whom the above mentioned challenges prevent them from icing, I have a solution. In my shower, I have one of those nozzles that is on the end of a hose, you can buy these at any bath supply or hardware store. After I'm done with the normal business of showering, ie de-stinkifying, I turn the water all the way to Cold. I then spray the legs with the very cold water. I keep that up for a while, at least several minutes. When I am done, the legs are red/pinkish, and cold to the touch. It feels great, and helps a lot.

I do this right after running, and first thing in the morning. I sometimes follow that up with sitting on the couch with ice packs on the legs.

Which leads to the blue sticky mess on my couch.

I bought what was called an "ice blanket". It is made from a blue liquid sealed in bubblewrap. You can cut between the "bubbles", and get the size you want. I must have accidentally dropped it or punctured the plastic when it was frozen. After 15 minutes or so, I noticed it leaking all over my couch. As I was confused as to what was going on, I squeezed it, and of course more of the blue gunk got on the couch. I would not recommend buying products like this. The best ones I have found are the old-fashioned rubber ice bags you can find at any drug store. People make fun of me for it, but they work great, and don't leak.

On the positive side, my couch was a dark blue/brown, so the stain is not super-noticeable. I'm glad I didn't purchase that white fuzzy rabbit-fur couch I had my eye on...that would have been a major bummer.

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