If you’ve been on social media lately, you will have noticed that ice baths are growing in popularity. It’s not uncommon to see people taking ice baths regularly. In fact, many athletes, fitness fanatics, and sporting professionals jump into an ice bath after any physical activity, but why are they so popular, and what are the benefits?
Also known as cold water immersion or cryotherapy, ice baths are the practice of taking a 10 to 15-minute dip in ice-cold water of approximately 50-59°F. The practice is said to help reduce muscle pain and soreness.
When Should You Take An Ice Bath?
Before you hop in an ice bath, it’s important to remember that timing is crucial. Ice baths are best right after an intense workout when your muscles are desperate to get cooled. This is also when healing can happen more effectively. If you wait too long, you won’t feel the full effects and still may experience inflammation and soreness.
Ice baths don’t have to be an unpleasant or painful experience, though. At first, your body will naturally be shocked by the ice-cold temperatures, so it’s important to focus your attention and steady your breathing.
Keep on reading to discover other benefits of ice baths.
Eases muscle pain
We’ve all experienced extreme muscle pain after an intensive workout – it’s not ideal. However, ice baths can help to alleviate this. Ice baths reduce nerve impulse transmission, which in turn helps reduce acute inflammation. After each game, professional athletes take ice baths to minimize muscle pain and aid recovery. You’ll often see Premier League footballers in ice baths after a game, and any team that isn’t using this recovery method will be left behind. That’s why Premier League teams are often overwhelming favorites against teams in lower divisions. They have sports science teams to help players recover, keeping their fitness high.
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Helps your central nervous system
Ice baths aren’t just good for your muscles, they’re good for your nervous system too. If you have difficulty sleeping, an ice bath can help you realign your focus and get you back to dozing off in no time.
Reduces inflammatory response
Ice baths are great at reducing inflammation across all areas of your body. The ice-cold temperature works by decreasing the local temperature after exercise and limiting inflammatory response, decreasing the amount of inflammation, and helping you recover faster.
Boosts mental health
Alongside the physical benefits, ice baths also offer mental health benefits. Whilst many people pick up walking, journaling, or gardening to boost their mental health, ice baths can also enhance mental health. Initially, many people new to ice baths often find the experience unpleasant and even painful. However, this can help you to relax and focus on your breathing. Over time, your body will build up a natural intolerance to the cold.
Boosts your immunity
We all love a natural immunity booster, and ice baths are just that. Scientific evidence indicates that ice baths help to boost the body’s immunity. A 2016 study published in the journal PLOS noted that people who take cold showers are almost 30 percent less likely to call in sick for work or school.
Helps your body prepare for the next workout
If you’re working out regularly, ice baths can help you ensure that you perform at your best every time. Ice baths allow your body to reset and recover, making you better prepared for your next workout.
So, are ice baths worth it?
To wrap things up, yes, ice baths are worth it. They have many benefits for your body, from reducing muscle pain and inflammation to boosting your mental health. If you’re struggling to submerge yourself in the water for the recommended 10-15 minutes, why not take a dip in blocks of five? Try five minutes the first time, 10 minutes the next, and so on until your body builds up its intolerance.
Remember, ice baths should be a calming experience, so do your best to enjoy them and allow the ice water to improve the feel of your body.