The great bath debate: cold versus epsom

Ok, so there might not be a great debate about what kind of bath you take as runner but it made for a catchy title right? Both types of bath have different pluses and negatives (plus you can apparently take a cold epsom salt bath?) so what do I prefer? It really comes down to what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been feeling. So here’s my breakdown on when I take each type of bath.

Cold water baths: post-long run

Now that I’m deep into marathon training, cold water baths are my go-to after my long runs. As I talked about earlier about what I do for recovery post-long run, I used to do warm epsom salt baths after my half marathon long runs. But the first time I tried that during marathon training, I was way too warm and started feeling light headed. So, I switched to cold water baths (no ice in them yet!)

Now I don’t feel like I’m about to faint in the tub and my muscles feel less sore the next day than they did when I was doing warm epsom salt baths. Of course, I’m doing more foam rolling and paying more attention to my recovery so it might be a combination of factors. But, it makes me feel like a bad ass runner to soak in cold weather.

Epsom salt bath: general soreness/foot soak

I haven’t totally gotten away from epsom salt baths but I’ve changed when I do them. It’s much less frequently (saving me some money on epsom salt) and only when I have a lot of soreness. I did one just this past Wednesday since I had misstepped on my run and my knees were bothering me.

The one thing I have been doing more frequently with epsom salt baths is doing a foot soak. My feet are taking a pound recently (no blisters yet though!) so I’m trying to take extra care of them. And nothing feels better than heating up some water in a small tub, pouring in some epsom salts and letting my feet soak as I watch tv. One of these days, I’d like to get a fancy foot spa system but for now I’m making due to a plastic cat litter tub!

What kind of bath do you prefer?