Ice baths, also known as cold-water immersion, have become quite popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. You may have watched videos of athletes submerging into massive tubs or barrels filled to the brim with ice-cold water. It may seem odd or even unbearable for you, but ice baths bring many health benefits, especially after intense workouts, and they’re not just for professional athletes!
Ice Baths and Their Health Benefits
Ice baths represent the practice of entering a tub filled with freezing water (i.e., 50-59 F) for about 10 to 15 minutes. Usually, such baths are taken after intense exercise sessions or sports competitions that require the overwork of the muscles. They are believed to reduce muscle pain and soreness, commonly occurring after consuming workouts.
Ice Baths May Boost the Immune System
One study indicated that ice baths, combined with meditation and different breathing techniques, may strengthen the immune system. The study participants, who were all exposed to bacterial infections, showed fewer symptoms after experiencing an ice bath. Although the researchers note that deep breathing played a significant role in the experiment, the technique only worked if paired with ice baths or cold exposure.
Ice Baths Diminish Muscle Soreness
Another study showed that ice baths are the perfect combatant against muscle soreness by reducing inflammation in just 15 minutes! The participants were asked to rest in water at 50 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Researchers concluded that the practice reduces muscle soreness more effectively than just waiting it out.
Ice Baths Improve Recovery from Intense Training
For athletes, ice baths are nothing out of the ordinary. Studies show that ice baths can boost the recovery of different injuries resulting from high-intensity training. Athletes like boxers and MMA fighters benefit most from ice baths, reporting less soreness and inflammation after injuries, training and intense competitions.
Not only do athletes benefit from improved recovery, but also gym members. If you are sore after an intense workout, try taking an ice bath. You will experience its benefits in no time!
Ice Baths Can Reduce Cardiac Stress
Cardiac stress, a part of every athlete’s life, increases exponentially if the environment is scorching hot because the athletes already overheat during training. Ice baths can ease your cardiac stress after training or competitions, especially in the heat, as studies show that ice baths reduce participants’ heart rate after long training sessions.
Improve Recovery from Cardio
One study showed that after a 20 minutes session of intense cardio, athletes recovered faster if they took an ice bath in the 15-minute break between sessions. In addition, the study compared results from athletes that took ice baths and those that didn’t. Not only did the athletes perform better after the ice baths, but they recovered faster from exhaustion.
Answering Questions about Ice Baths
It is natural to have questions before starting any practice, and it’s no different for ice baths. Many people online are looking to solve questions such as:
Do Ice Baths Help Sunburns?
Ice baths can indeed help heal sunburns. This is because the cool water used in ice baths helps decrease the inflammation caused by a sunburn. Some people do not want to take anti-inflammatory medicine, and for them, ice baths are an excellent solution! Not only will ice baths encourage the process of healing, but they will also keep you cool and fresh!
Can Ice Baths Help Lose Weight?
Practicing ice baths can activate the brown adipose, primarily located around your neck and collar bones. When activated, it releases different hormones responsible for burning the fats that gather around your waist and thighs, and, as a result, it can help you lose weight.
How to Prepare Your Ice Bath
There are a few requirements to remember before preparing your ice bath, starting with the temperature, which must be around 50-59 F or 10-15 C. Also, keep an eye on the time spent in the ice bath, as spending too much time in an ice bath can have adverse consequences. You should not spend more than 10-15 minutes in an ice bath. Finally, before entering the ice bath, you must make yourself comfortable with the water. Begin with your feet, then legs, chest, and so on.
A Parting Reminder
Keep in mind that an ice bath may not be for everyone. Many studies point out that the benefits are more valuable for athletes than the general population. If you want to use ice baths to recover from athletic injuries or intense training sessions, always look out for the temperature of the water and the time spent in it.