What is an Ice Bath
An ice bath is used as a therapy commonly by professional athletes following an intense exercise in which they immerse their body in ice-water for a short duration. Some studies have shown that taking a cold shower or an ice bath for a short period on a daily basis is beneficial for you in boosting your health.
Do Ice Baths Really Work
Research studies have provided mixed results so far. Some have proved ice baths or cold showers to be advantageous, while others have shown no difference between those who used a post-workout ice bath and those who did not.
If you are an athlete looking to recover muscles quickly between events, then ice baths may prove to be useful. However, if gaining strength by building muscle mass in the long-term is your priority, you should avoid it.
What does an Ice Bath Do
Many athletes, including tennis, rugby, basketball, and football players, and other sports professionals have been using this to help improve their performance. While it works wonders for the athletes, taking an ice bath might be good for you too because of the following benefits.
1. Post-workout recovery
It reduces the recovery time, helping you to relax after a strenuous workout while preparing your muscles for the next activity. If you do not follow a high-intensity workout schedule, it can be beneficial for tightening the blood vessels in your arms and legs, improving blood flow and helping your core muscles to get stronger.
2. Reduction of muscle soreness
Exercise may cause a build-up of lactic acid, damaging muscle functions and resulting in soreness and fatigue. Taking an ice bath helps remove lactic acid thereby reducing swelling helpful for runners and basketball players.
3. Improvement of immune system
It helps boost your immune system by increasing the metabolic rate and the number of white blood cells in your body. The increased metabolic rate may also help you to lose weight.
4. Alleviating depression
Bathing in ice water helps calm your mind by activating your sympathetic nervous system. It improves blood flow to your brain and other muscle groups, reduces chronic inflammation that is connected with depression.
Does it Have Any Possible Bad Effects
It is not all praise and positivity about this practice, as some researchers claim that taking an ice-bath immediately after an intense physical activity does more harm than good. Inflammation is part of your body’s immune reponse by which it makes an attempt to start the healing process. By using ice, you actually interfere with the natural response mechanism of your body.
Also, exposing your body to an ice bath for a prolonged period can be dangerous and may result in hypothermia (drop in body temperature below 95 °F). Unless recommended by your doctor, do not stay in the ice bath for more than 10 minutes. The regular immersion time varies between 6 and 10 minutes, provided the water temperature ranges from 10 to 15 °C.
Things to Keep in Mind for a Safe Ice Bath
Before getting into an ice bath routine, make sure to consult your doctor to determine whether you have any underlying conditions that might pose a health risk. Take caution if you have existing heart problems. Also, make sure to keep track of the time your body remains submerged in ice-water. If you are not used to the cold, you may soak a towel in moderately cold water and then wrap some parts of your body with it.