Benefits of Ice Baths: Everything You Need To Know About Cold Water Therapy

You have seen professional athletes submerging themselves in ice water baths on social media platforms like TikTok. There has been an explosion of podcasts with ice bath enthusiasts raving about the health benefits. However, you might not know that ice baths have been around for the longest time; jumping into an ice bathtub to relax your muscles dates back to ancient Greece.

Today ice baths are stable on celebrities, athletes and health gurus’ recovery routines. If done the right way, ice baths can be helpful to active people and those in sports. However, before trying it out, you need to understand it.

What Is An Ice Bath?

First, before learning the benefits, you must understand an ice bath. An ice bath is a cold water immersion similar to a plunge pool. The technique includes submerging your body but not your head in cold water after exercise for a certain period and at a set temperature.

Ice baths are mired by controversy due to the risk of things like hypothermia and unclear degree of physiological recovery benefits. Researchers are not on the same page with the findings; some claim no benefits to the ice baths. However, science suggests that there is a likelihood of getting subjective benefits which is why ice baths have existed for a long time.

How Does An Ice Bath Help?

Physical exercise causes fatigue in the body. In most cases, you need to recover from the fatigue to exercise again. So how does an ice bath help? It quickens the recovery process so you can exercise again without exhaustion.

Ice baths achieve this by either Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) or Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). DOMS reduces muscle soreness that you often experience days after physical exercise. RPE, on the other hand, reduces the physical effort that any activity will require. It is important to note that the effects of an Ice bath are purely subjective and based on an individual’s perception.

What Are The Potential Benefits Of An Ice Bath?

If you are considering adding ice baths to your fitness routine, you should understand the different benefits to understand if it is worth putting your body through the cold. Ice baths have many benefits for people working out or participating in competitive sports.

Eases Aching And Sore Muscles

One of the greatest benefits of an ice bath is that it will make you feel good. After an intense workout session, an ice bath immersion will relieve your sore muscles. While scientists are not sure how it works, the theory is that the slow nerve signalling caused by the cold could mean less pain. The cold water could also lower pain perception, making you feel less sore.

Evidence shows that ice baths ease pain in chronic conditions, including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. There is a need for more research on how ice bath affects pain and its long-term side effects.

Improved Mental Health

Ice baths are great for your mental health. A study found that a 20-minute ice bath four days a week improved the quality of life for people diagnosed with gout. Ice baths allow them better joint mobility and less stress, depression and anxiety. Exposing your body to the cold water triggers a stress response which activates the nervous system. In turn, these changes can help improve your mood and help you adapt to stress better over a given period.

Lowers Your Core Body Temperature

One of the most obvious benefits of ice baths is that they will help you cool down if you are overheated. A study found that soaking cold water for at least 10 minutes can reduce the core body temperature after a workout. You can avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke when you cool down after a workout.

Bottom Line

Ice baths have gained popularity over time as a workout recovery method. They aid in relieving muscle pains and aches and may also help boost your mood. However, it is essential to note that it cannot cure all mental or physiological concerns. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider before taking an ice bath.

References and Resources


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