Ice baths: The cold or the water? Blister prevention tip

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

We know ice baths help us recover, right? Is it the cold helping us or the compression from the water, though? That’s a good question.

Also, what’s a good way to prevent blisters? There are a lot of ideas out there. Some might work, some actually are counterproductive.

The cold or the water?

To be honest, I’ve long suspected both. The compression of any water has been shown to reduce blood pooling and aid in recovery. At the same time, we know cold does the same.

Well, now I have a study to back up my suspicion.

The study basically tested cold water therapy against cold air therapy. If cold water works better than cold air, then the compression of the water does help.

The key takeaway:

The findings suggest the combination of hydrostatic pressure and cold temperature may be favourable for recovery from strength training rather than cold temperature alone.

Blister prevention tip

There are many theories out there on preventing blisters. I recall Vaseline being a popular theory for a while. Now, we know it can actually be worse than doing nothing.

So what does work? Back when I was in college, I would sometimes put athletic tape over areas of my foot that would be blister prone. Obviously, a study of one is not scientific evidence but it worked reasonably well for me.

It turns out a study was done using paper tape and the result was that the tape worked for as long as it would stick.

I do wonder if athletic tape would stick better than the paper tape used in the study. However, for wrapping toes, I’d be hesitant to use the athletic tape unless wrapping all the toes because the paper tape offers a more smooth outer surface that would be easier on neighboring toes.

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