Ice Bath v Epsom Salt

The ice bath…it’s one of the most dreaded and most loved long run recovery tools.  I will admit to having tried it a few times, but that was back when I lived in Kansas City and it was like 32 degrees outside to start with…so yes I really, really hated it.

At that point, I turned to Epsom salt baths after my long runs and for the most part I haven’t looked back (except after that 19 miler in 100 degree temps here).  It’s very likely that I will embark on more ice baths next year when the temps rise with my distance, but for now I am going to stick to the Epsom salt.

icecube Causes muscles to tighten and drains the blood, once you step out blood starts flowing and in theory this flushes lactic acid and speeds recovery.

icecubeReduces swelling and tissue break down

icecubeNo major studies can agree on whether or not this works…but if you think it works well with running that’s generally all that matters.

salt Body more easily absorbs magnesium through the skin than in a pill this results in a number of benefits.

saltReduces inflammation
Eliminates toxins which helps to easy muscle pain

saltImproved nerve functions by regulating electrolytes

Helps your adrenaline glands ensure they have enough magnesium, which they likely do not after a run because it causes so much stress on the body.

Post long run recently I have not had time to hit the bath because I’ve been taking a quick shower and running off to yoga.  I have to admit that yoga is making a huge difference in how my legs feel on Sunday and allows me to get in an easy run…BUT sometimes during yoga if I’m sweating it’s tough and I know that bath would have helped A LOT.

Last week there was no shade and no wind at yoga…so while I was trying my hardest to keep up with my hydration I just couldn’t drink enough not to be sick to my stomach. The result…I had to wear compression shocks too and from yoga to help with cramping!
yogabayfront yogabayfront2
What’s your post long run plan to get your legs feeling great…or at least passable for the rest of the day?? Have you tried both the ice bath and epsom salt bath?

Gratitude Journal
Sept 14
I am grateful for outdoor yogasig
I am grateful for shade
I am grateful for air conditioning
I am grateful for kitty toys
I am grateful for friendly dogs that don’t jump

Reasons to Run
Brooks Giveaway


  1. says

    I use this Juniper shower gel that is supposed to help the recovery. Not too mad about it, though. I plan on trying an ice bath after my next 20 miler (in 1 1/2 weeks)…mostly because I have a 10K race planned the day after that 20 miler. Not the best of ideas, I guess.;)

  2. says

    i love epsom salts. i use them all the time. i find that they are more on the relaxing side, rather than as a recovery tool.i took my first ice bath on sunday and am not sore at all after my 19 miles.

  3. says

    awesome post ~ thanks for the info in regards to ice baths vs Epsom salt soaks. i take an ice bath after every run, usually just in a a 5 gallon bucket so that its centralized to my shins, because of shin splints. however, sometimes after a long run my hips are super tight so a full ice bath really does make a difference. i have done epsom salt baths before also but didnt get the same results. i think i need to try them again come winter time because ice baths are freezing cold! after long runs i try to do lots & lots of stretching both immediately after the run and the rest of that day along with use the foam roller and the stick and going for an easy 1+ mile walk later in the day. ive noticed that going for a walk and getting my legs moving is really helping alot. i def want to start incorporating some yoga too as my long runs increase in mileage over the next few weeks!

  4. says

    I used to do ice baths in college after practice, but I really haven't done them since then. I think that eating during my long runs has definitely helped to have me not sore the next day.

  5. says

    Ice, ice, ice baby! When I have done them I have noticed the relief. The issue I have is the same as yours. They are not fun. Yet, no matter your post is reminder I need to start doing them again. Epsom Salt? How much Salt to water ratio do you do?

  6. says

    Compression socks immediately post run. Ice bath when I get home.I save the epsom salts for the evening way after I have done a long run. Our coach steers us clear of any sort of hot water – hot tub, hot bath etc. too close to finishing a run as it can lengthen recovery time and tighten the muscles.

  7. says

    I have always done ice but wondered about epsom. I recently asked a trainer friend about epsom, and she was not a believer. I say, however, do what works best for you!

  8. says

    I usually do ice after a long run followed by quick shower and immediate donning of the recovery socks :) I've never heard of the epsom salt baths… i'll have to look more into that :)

  9. says

    I haven't done any long run training for a while now, but when I did I chose to do ice baths even though I didn't really care for them. I do know that a lot of stretching (like yoga) and a lot of water taken in after a long run help immensely as I am trying to recover!

  10. says

    Great post! I recently added the epsom salt bath into my post run recovery. I like an ice bath right after my long run and then later an epsom salt bath…very soothing.

  11. says

    I am huge fan of the ice bath – my recent method has been sitting in the Boise River after the long runs. It doesn't seem so bad that route but super chilly! I also suggest doing something a bit active later in the day. I have been taking an ice bath, then resting for a few hours then going on a short walk or running errands or something. Anything to keep my legs moving and haven't had any issues the following day.

  12. says

    I never knew all that about the ice baths! I somewhat could fathom the reasoning behind them but now I get it more. I still don't ever foresee myself dunking in one though. LOL I've done the epsom salts before after a tough training session for comp prep. I think it helped.

  13. says

    I love an ice bath–even after a run in zero degree weather I'll take one–but I've never tried an epsom salts one–I'm intrigued…can ice and epsom salts be combined?

  14. says

    I haven't tried epsoms, but I can tell you I am a BIG believer in the ice bath. Just in case any of the readers need the details of the ice bath. Get in tap water first, wear a sweatshirt, cover the ears, gloves, and hot tea or coffee. Buy an aquarium thermometer and put it in the water. When you have adjusted to the tap water start adding the ice. Get the water to around 52 degrees and stay in for 10-20 min. If done correctly it HELPS me SO MUCH.Anxious to see any follow-ups to the ice & epsom combo questions. Hmmmm!

  15. says

    i've never considered epsom salt as an alternative to the ice bath…hmmm. well, this winter when michigan is below 0 for the up-teenth day…i'll have to give that a go. i personally LOVE ice baths and swear they make the biggest difference EVER. love the idea of a warm alternative though…

  16. says

    I haven't had the chance to try an ice bath after a long run, but I take epsom salt bathes very often. I love salt baths! They make me feel way more at ease and relaxed. Never tried yoga before though, so that's worth a shot.

  17. says

    Ice baths haven't ever really felt beneficial for me. I'm sure that it's different for everyone, but my legs never feel rested, less achy, or even restored after a training session and a hell bath (and the training can range from plyos, heavy lifting, 10-21 mile long runs, speedwork). Hot, epsom salt baths have always been very soothing for my legs!

  18. says

    I have never tried epsom salts but I tried an ice bath for the first time this past weekend and man, an epsom salt bath sounds a lot more pleasant! I really could feel the blood draining out of my ankle/calf area. But, I wasn't sore the next day so I think it was worth it! :)

  19. says

    I can't wait to try Epsom Salt. I have an 18 miler at 7am on Sunday and hope to finish by 10:30 so I can enjoy a 30 minute bath before meeting my friend for a Taste of the West Village! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *