Bucking the trend: hot baths and stretches

I wrote that after my 14 miler on Sunday I’d taken a hot bath rather than the cold one everyone and their granny prescribes. I thought I’d let you know how that worked out!

I’ve been rereading ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. Not all of it, but zoning in on what I think are important areas. For example, Danny doesn’t advocate pre-run stretching and I’ve read a lot recently about how stretching static muscles can cause muscle tears. I’ve tried Dynamic Stretches and still incorporate those (when I remember) as I’m doing my warm up walk, so long as no one is watching! However Danny suggests that Body Loosening Exercises are far better for you than static muscular stretches. These involve loosening the joints, ligaments and tendons of the ankles, knees, hips, sacrum (my old enemy and weakspot), spine, shoulders and neck. I’m not going to go into huge detail about these because if you are really interested you should buy Danny’s book, but I have to say when I do these looseners I always run smoother (from the start) and with less wear and tear.

After a run Danny says you must cooldown (my walk) until your heart rate and breathing are back to normal and then stretch to release the lactic acid in your muscles into your bloodstream. The stretches are the normal ones you see advertised in any decent running mag.

Then he says soak your body in a hot bath.

Soaking your legs especially warms your muscle and relaxes them back into their normal shape. Soaking in hot water, he says, dilates capillaries, which help to flush metabolic waste out of your muscles and into your bloodstream to be eliminated.

He then goes on to say that you can take a cold bath if you like because it does help with inflammation and allows the blood to then circulate to any injuries. I suppose if you take a cold bath you could be running the risk of trapping toxins as the cold causes constriction.

So, I took a hot bath. A big fat bubbly one and relaxed. It was great.

I also used some ibuprofen gel on my hips and knees, just the once about an hour after the run.

The next day I didn’t feel any ill effects of running 14 miles. No stiffness, no pain.

Zilch.

Read into that what you want, but, believe me, next time I run I’ll be taking a nice hot bath!

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