Benefits of taking Ice Baths
Want to speed up for recovery time, be less sore and increase your training load or intensity? Ice baths might be the answer for you. What is an ice bath you ask? Also called cold water immersion, (CWI) or cryotherapy, Ice baths are the practice of taking 10 to 15 minute immersions in very cold water (50-59°F) after an intense exercise session or competition. Ice baths are believed to help reduce muscle pain and overall soreness.
Here are the top 5 health benefits that Ice Baths offer:
1. Reducing Muscle Soreness
The soreness that can occur after unaccustomed exercise or a stepped-up workout is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. It usually peaks between 24 and 48 hours later. It involves muscle stiffness, swelling, declines in strength, and localized muscle soreness. Experts think it's due to mechanical damage that occurs to the muscle fibers. That can lead to inflammation and pain.
Since cold therapy drastically reduces inflammation, athletes all over the world have been using cold immersion therapy to reduce the inflammation that is caused by working out.
2. Naturally Improve Sleep Patterns (resulting in improved muscle recovery)
Research suggests regular ice baths can aid your central nervous system, resulting in improved sleep patterns. Anything that improves your sleep patterns will dramatically improve your muscle recovery and overall lack of fatigue.
Getting enough sleep and water is absolutely vital when you are trying to increase your athletic performance levels.
3. Limits Inflammatory Response
Cold therapy constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a faster return of blood flow, which helps move the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body, explains Robert Gillanders, D.P.T., and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association, who has nine Boston Marathons under his belt.
4. Increased Blood Flow
After your blood vessels constrict and decrease blood flow during your ice bath, once you get out, the healing begins. Since your vessels were restricted, your body's natural reaction is to push blood back to the areas as fast as possible. This natural reaction in your body encourages healing to muscles that have been micro-damaged in a workout.
5. Flush out Lactic Acid
Since an ice bath immediately reduces swelling, ice baths also aid in flushing lactic acid out of your body. When you sit in an ice bath — or when you rub a cup of ice on the muscles you just trained — the cold causes your blood vessels to tighten. This helps flush the lactic acid and other toxins out of your tired muscles.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ice Baths
When should I take an ice bath
There are people that bounce back and forth between taking an ice bath prior to a workout to drop your core temperature, this hypothetically could aid in combating the effects heat and humidity have on your body when you are completing a hard workout. Others are big proponents of taking an ice bath post-workout to rapidly decrease inflammation caused by a hard workout.
What are the side effects of ice baths?
Are there any risks associated with taking ice baths?If you have any pre-existing conditions, especially high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, this blood flow restriction can be dangerous for anyone with pre-existing conditions and can put you at risk for cardiac arrest or a stroke. Please, always, consult your healthcare professional if considering cold water immersion therapy prior to starting.
Is an ice bath for you? Try this simple test.
- Create a workout. It's called workout #1
- Take an ice bath at the beginning of workout #1. Rest 2 days.
- Take an ice bath AFTER workout #1, rest 2 days.
- Take an ice bath pre and post-workout #1, rest 2 days.
- How did you feel? Track your results and write them down after each experiment.