Today marks the close of the Sochi Winter Olympics, when the athletes, coming down off their two week adrenaline high, hit their foam rollers and massage tables, and limp onto their flights bound for home. To celebrate their effort (regardless of how they placed), we revisit something in their recovery toolkit—the brutal, but helpful, ice bath.
It’s a rite of passage all of them—plus marathoners and CrossFitters—seriously consider at some point. Submerging your body in bath full of ice (often athletes buy a bag or two) for a short period of time, about five minutes, in intervals, is said to help soreness, inflammation, and muscle recovery from vigorous training. Like lots of old-world practices (jamming a dislocated shoulder back into place), it’s torture that heals.
Jennifer Halliday of Wakaya Perfection, a company that makes an Organic Pink Fijian Ginger Powder I’ve been adding to teas and smoothies, suggested that I add about four tablespoons to a recovery bath after an ow-y workout. “It’ll help sore muscles and acts as an anti-inflammatory—the perfect duo [with the ice bath] to help you recover quicker,” Halliday promised. I found it pleasantly true, even though the water in my tub wasn’t anywhere close to icy. But then again, my workout, though tough, was nowhere near Olympic. —Melisse Gelula