Are Ice Baths Good for You?
What if we told you to step into a tub full of ice water and stay in there for a few minutes? Not just that. What if we told you that it would be for your own good?
At this point, you are probably starting to question our sanity. But wait just a minute. As unbelievable as it might sound, we are not kidding. Ice baths are a very real, very popular thing. Allow us to elaborate.
What are Ice Baths?
As the name suggests, ice baths involve immersing a large part of the body in ice water. Also known as cold bath therapy, it usually follows an intense workout session.
The person immerses a substantial part of themselves in ice water at the temperature of 10-15 degrees Celsius for around 10-15 minutes, immediately following a workout.
Ice baths are essentially a form of sports therapy. They have been a part of many athletes’ therapy regimes for a long time now. Only recently they have gained traction among regular people.
Benefits of ice baths
Ice baths are about as painful as they sound. It cannot be easy to take a plunge into such cold water, never mind actually staying in there. So, what encourages people to participate in this apparent insanity?
Beneficial for the Nervous System
Many studies have shown that ice baths are beneficial for the nervous system. They improve the responsiveness of the body’s neurological sections and also improve their performance.
Ice baths help in lowering the body temperature by a bit and thus reducing inflammation after workouts. This aids in quicker recovery from fatigue.
It is also said to aid you in the way you deal with stressful situations, by affecting your nervous system in a positive way.
Soothes Sore Muscles
A very important part of a workout is relaxing your muscles after the immense strain they have been put through. When you get into the ice bath, your blood vessels constrict and when you get out, they dilate.
This helps in not only dealing with post-workout waste quicker but also increases blood flow. This is essential for your body to recuperate from workout tiredness. The increased blood flow helps to flood your body with nutrients and vitamins. This helps recovery.
To put it in simple words, ice baths help in making you and your body feel good. After a strenuous couple of hours in the gym, an ice bath can indeed be a very wonderful thing.
Improves Athletic Abilities
Ice baths help a lot in making the body stronger and fitter. They are a great help for athletes who need to give their bodies a break.
Not just that, if you have an important sports event coming up, especially one in which you have to perform under heat or humidity, we have a helpful tip for you.
An ice bath before your contest might be able to give you the winning edge that you need. As ice baths slightly lower the core body temperature, you will be more resistant to environmental conditions.
This will enhance your overall capabilities and equip you for better performance.
Ice water baths have been proven to trigger thermogenesis, a biological process that uses up your body’s fat cells to generate heat.
This speeds up your body’s metabolism and even helps in the prevention of weight gain.
The specific conditions in an ice bath trigger your body’s flight or fight response.
Basically, it exposes your body to such unusual conditions where it is pushed beyond the comfort zone. This strengthens immunity. This will help your body in battling with illness and also improve your overall fitness levels.
Helps in Sleeping Better
Ice baths are known for having a positive impact on the nervous system, in that it provides some much-needed relaxation to the whole mechanism. And when the brain is relaxed, people tend to sleep better.
It is one of the reasons why athletics popularly use ice baths for their post-workout regime.
It helps them in getting a better quantity as well as quantity of sleep which enhances their performance. Ice baths have also been proven to reduce instances of sleep disorders among people.
Take one immediately after a workout
It is very important that you do not wait around for too long after a workout to get into an ice bath.
The ideal time to take one is immediately following an intense workout. If you wait too long, you will not derive much of the benefits from the process and then the whole thing will probably turn out to be an unpleasant experience for you.
Be mindful to not spend too long in there. The ideal duration is only 10 to 15 minutes. Any more than that and you run the risk of lowering your body temperature too much, which is extremely harmful to your health, to say the least.
The ideal temperature of the bath is 10-15 degrees Celsius or 50-59 degree Fahrenheit according to most studies. Any lower than that and you might end up catching hypothermia which is one of the most painful states a person can be in physically.
You should not immediately expose all of your body to the water. Start by immersing just your feet and legs and then gradually lowering yourself into the water. This way you will not make the experience too hard on yourself.
It is advised to have some sort of supervision around you in case of an emergency. Also, it is best to consult a physician if you have any sort of physical ailment or some disease before taking part in this process. You can never be too careful in terms of health.
The bottom line:
We would say that yes, ice baths are good for you.
They are a very good way to give your body a chance to heal from an intense gymming session. And as long as you take the necessary precautions, you should not face any problems in this activity.
The frequency will depend on your particular body type and your training regime. But it is definitely something you can try out.