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The cold benefits of ice baths
Around the Academy:

Lawrence Dallaglio soaks in an ice bath
Lawrence Dallaglio lies back and thinks of England

Craig Smith

In simple terms, it's about helping the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and all the different tissues used in sport recover from their workout.

Just like Michael Schumacher's car needs a complete overhaul with new parts and tyres after a Formula One race, the body needs to service itself and its parts for the next day, next race or next match.

The body does this with the help of the blood vessels that bring oxygen to the tissues and remove the waste products of exercise, the most common being lactic acid.

Too much lactic acid build up can cause the muscles to function poorly and over a long period of time feelings of fatigue, heavy legs and general tiredness can set in.

England centre Mike Tindall in an ice Zealand
Mike Tindall feels the pain of an ice bath

So how do ice baths help to boost the body's recovery processes and prevent injury?

When you get into an ice bath for five to 10 minutes, the icy cold water causes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your legs. After 10 minutes your legs feel cold and numb.

So when Wilko gets out of the bath, his legs fill up with 'new' blood that invigorates his muscles with oxygen to help the cells function better.

At the same time, the more blood coming into Jonny's legs will have to leave as well, draining away and at the same time taking with it the lactic acid that has built up from his match.

Most of the players at the Rugby World Cup will be taking ice baths regularly after training sessions to help their muscles stay fresh and avoid injury.

Recovery or torture? Try it out for yourself and decide!

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Why an ice bath?
The cold benefits

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It's absolute agony, and I dread it, but it allows my body to recover so much more quickly
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Paula Radcliffe on ice baths

Did you know?
Australia's cricketers are another team who love their ice baths
Captain Steve Waugh absolutely loves them - he's been known to stay in one for over an hour!

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