Whenever your muscles are feeling a bit sore or overworked, you should remember my motto, “Ice Early, Ice Often.” The second and my favorite way to do that is to give yourself an ice massage.
In general, you do not want to ice for more than 20 minutes at a time using any method. When giving yourself an ice massage, you generally do not want to ice for more than 10 minutes at a time, and can often get by with about 5 to 7 minutes of icing. You should still give yourself 20 minutes between icing sessions, and may want to do up to 3 icing sessions in a row. An ice massage is simply massaging the sore places with an ice cube of some sort. There are a few different methods for getting the ice cube ready for an ice massage.
- Take an ice cube out of a normal ice cube tray. Rub that along your sore muscles. You may want to wrap the back side in a paper towel to keep your fingers from getting too cold while you hold it. On a warm or hot day, the ice cube will probably only last a few minutes before it has melted.
- Freeze water in a small paper cup. This is the best and easiest way to go about it. Fill a small paper cup with water and freeze it. When you finish your run (or other workout) just pull the cup out of the freezer and peel the paper back. As the ice melts you peel more paper, so that the majority of the ice isn’t exposed directly to the hot air or your warm fingers. Depending upon the size of the cup you can get 5 minutes to 15 minutes before ice melts. Sometimes you can even use the same cup for multiple sessions, although I prefer using a smaller cup.
- You can use a freezer pack. I am not a big fan of using the freezer packs that you use in coolers to keep your food cold, but they work as well. I prefer something smaller and easier to manage, but they are certainly the most economical method of icing yourself. They also make less of a mess.
Remember that unlike when you ice yourself with an ice bag or use a freezer pack, the water will not be trapped and will make a small puddle on or beneath you. If you sit on an easy to clean floor or a towel, then it is no big deal. Just hang up the towel or mop up the puddle when you are done.