Thursday, October 12, 2017

Deciding between Ice and Heat: Which One to Use and When

The first rule of using ice or using heat is commitment. Without commitment, the benefits you are seeking from either ice or heat will be pointless. If you are committed to applying ice or heat there are a few things you should know or keep in mind before doing either.

What does ice do for an injury?

Ice is best at reducing inflammation in the injured area. It also does not promote extra blood flow, which means icing will reduce swelling of the affected area. If you know you are experiencing an inflammation injury then ice is the best way to go.

What does heat do for an injury?

Heat is best at increasing the blood flow to the applied area. Sore muscles can benefit from heat, because they need more blood to heal and repair themselves. If you are not suffering from inflammation or swelling of an injury, then you probably want to heat the sore muscle.

How long is too long?

It’s not advisable to leave ice or heat on the afflicted area for too long. Experts recommend to leave ice or heat on for longer than 10 minutes. This is so the ice or heat can affect your muscle or injury and not just your skin. Anything past 20 minutes is getting towards the danger zone, especially with ice. Ice can cause frostbite, so do not ice longer than 20 minutes. In both cases, it’s best to keep something in between you and the ice or heat, so grab a towel or a double layered paper towel to reduce sudden temperature changes to the afflicted area.

Timing to Apply


Do not use ice before a workout, even if you have an injury. Ice makes the afflicted area stiffer and you want to be loose before your workout. Another reason not to ice before a workout is to keep your brain sharp. Icing your injury will signal to your brain that, because it cannot feel the area it means it’s fine. Prevent a more serious injury and avoid icing pre-workout. Post-workout is where it’s at for ice. You can either ice immediately after your workout or you can wait until you feel like you are not going to be bothering the injured area for the rest of the night.


Applying heat before your workout can be useful to your muscles. As discussed previously, it helps promote blood flow, which translates to your muscles feeling looser and warmed up for the workout. If you are looking to heat as an after workout solution it works best if you apply heat immediately after your workout. You want to promote blood flow as soon as possible, so waiting decreases the value of heat reducing the soreness.

On the note of Injuries

If your injury just happened, ice it for at least two weeks. Injuries usually have inflammation and before you want to get blood flow to the area, you want to reduce the swelling. After the two-week icing period is when you want to switch to heat for injuries. When the inflammation is gone, you want to increase blood flow to the injury, so you can get your muscles to repair the damage that is there. Always trust your gut and see a professional if you feel like an injury is out of your control, or if the pain persists.

                                                                   picture courtesy of Daily Mail

Ice Baths

The jury is still out on this one, so I’ll do my best to describe the points of both sides.

For the Ice Bath

Hypothetically, ice baths are supposed to prevent and repair small tears in your muscles and kick start your body’s recovery. If you are going to dunk yourself in an ice bath don’t feel pressured to be in freezing conditions and make sure you are not in the ice bath for over 10 minutes. The other reason to ice bath is to reduce swelling and pain after a hard workout. Ice baths will help cool your muscles, so the pain is numbed and when the body heats back up hopefully the pain has subsided. The last point in favor of ice baths is that ice baths are able to submerge a large portion of your body at one time, instead of using ice packs.

Against the Ice Bath

Experts over the past 8 years have done studies on the effects of ice baths and most studies will conclude little to no effect. According to the various studies, which there are several, ice baths will make a test subject feel physically better after a workout, but there are no long-term benefits. Basically, ice baths won’t give you any more improvement whether you decide to have an ice bath or skip the ice bath.

Whether you are icing or heating remember to always listen and be mindful of your body. Both techniques can be beneficial depending on their uses. If you are still suffering from a long-term injury and you are in pain, please seek professional opinions.

Happy Icing and Heating!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Ultimate Swim Goggle Guide

Finding the perfect pair of goggles can be a little tricky, but fear not, goggles are fortunately less tricky than finding the perfect pair of sunglasses. The first obstacle you should be prepared to tackle is how many goggles you should own. The answer is at least four. If you are committed to only open water, or only pool water you can get away with owning three. One should be your perfect pair for open water, one should be your perfect pair for swimming pools, and the other two should be acceptable back-ups. If you are going to a race; pack your perfect pair, an acceptable back-up, and a pair of good deed goggles just in case another swimmer is in need.

Facial Fit

There are two different ways typical goggles will fit your face, and your choice depends on what makes you the most comfortable. One fit is where the gaskets will rest against your bones and the other fit is where the gaskets will rest in the eye socket area. The goggles that rest in the eye socket area will be face suckers, but most people say that they are more comfortable. Again, this is preference to you, so feel free to choose either.

                                                            picture courtesy of The Wirecutter

Picking the Right Tint

Open Water Swimming

When it comes to open water swimming, you should consider getting two different types of goggles. If the sun is high in the sky, or even just glaring, you want to choose your darker tinted goggles to help you see better and reduce the amount of glare from the sun you get, kind of like sunglasses. When the clouds are out and no sun is to be seen, consider wearing a color-tinted goggle like the color blue. The colored pair of goggles will make obstacles clearer when the sky is not clear.

Indoor Swimming

As far as tint goes in indoor swimming, party it up. Freedom of choice in tint of goggles reigns here. Clear goggles work here too, it all depends on preference.  If your indoor pool has bright lights shining down on the water, I’d recommend some sort of darker tinted goggles to help reduce glare.

Before Diving In

There are a few features of goggles to consider before diving in and buying your first pair. Features are broken down into where you are going to wear your goggles.

Open Water

For open water, there are arguably two best features to look for in a pair goggles. The first is anti-fog. Anti-fog treatment on goggles helps prevent fog from building up on your open water swim. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like swimming in the ocean without visibility due to my own goggles fogging up. The anti-fog treatment on goggles will only last if you take care of your goggles, so avoid touching the inside of the goggles.

The other best feature for open water goggles is a double strap design. The double strap design makes it harder for another competitor to accidently kick or punch your goggles off of you. This may not seem like a huge deal at first, but if you’ve had your goggles kicked off and salt water in your eyes it becomes a lifesaver.

Another feature some goggles offer that you should keep in mind is UV protection. If you are outside, you are getting hit by UV rays, protect your eyes like you do on the bike and run portion.

Inside Pool

Features for goggles are mostly made for open water swimming, so there is more freedom for choice for swimming in pools. It’s best if you can find a pair of goggles that fit you comfortably and have reduced drag.  

Durability in pool water is something to keep in mind. Plastic gaskets, or the method of water tightness in goggles, is the best way to go if you are in chlorine treated waters. The gaskets made with silicon or rubber will wear away. This isn’t an ultimate deal breaker, since a decent pair of goggles is fairly cheap, but it is something to consider.

Fog Rolling In

Maybe you’ve done your best to keep the anti-fog coating on your goggles, but you are still experiencing the dreaded fog. There are a few solutions to help clear up your goggles. Rub a little bit of toothpaste inside your goggles and wait. Then after a few minutes wash out the excess, mostly so you don’t get mint burning in your eyes. This will help create a coat in your goggles to decrease condensation from forming, eliminating the fog problems.

Goggle Care

Although they are not the most expensive pieces of gear in your bag, it’s nice not to replace them every month. To get the most out of your goggles, wash them in cold water after every single use. Let them dry naturally by hanging them somewhere out of sunlight, but with plenty of airflow. Pools degrade rubber and silicon so make sure to be extra vigilant in washing your goggles after your swim in chlorine.  

Once you have selected your pair, or pairs depending on where you swim, it’s time for the best part. The actual swim! Putting your goggles to the test can tell you a lot of information about what you like and don’t like in a pair of goggles.

Blub…Blub. Happy Swimming!