Can Ice Baths Help You?

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( — January 8, 2021) — Recovery from physical exertion is one of the most important processes for athletes and gym enthusiasts. Over the years, different approaches have become popular, whether because of recommendation by scientists, use by popular athletes and just plain amazing results. 

Massages might be the most common recovery technique used by gym enthusiasts and athletes alike. The main goal is usually to reduce inflammation and soreness after exposing the body to the strain and rigour of a physical routine. It is also common to use compression outfits, electro muscular stimulation or saunas to get the recovery results needed. 

Ice-baths are an increasingly popular alternative to these methods.An ice-bath can be just as chilling as it sounds. Usually, it is just a tub filled with ice and water. To achieve the desired results, athletes usually stay immersed for 10-15 minutes.  Tennis champions Andy Murray and Naomi Osaka use the treatment to recover after tough competitions. 

However, the benefits of taking ice baths are not limited to the high-performance athlete. They can also be beneficial to people who exercise regularly and want to recover better. These persons can expect to get similar benefits to other recovery methods, sometimes faster than usual. For instance, exposure to cold might temporarily decrease pain perception. This means it can be useful in alleviating pain from injuries. It is not quite the same as taking a cold shower since an ice bath would expose the body to even lower temperatures and facilitate full immersion.

Additionally, ice baths not only prevent pain but they are also useful in actual injury-treatment. When an athlete is injured, an ice bath can help because it exposes the body to cold shock proteins and these proteins can prevent muscle-wasting.

It has even been suggested that ice-baths can have a positive impact on one’s mental health

With these benefits, it is also important to note that ice-baths on their own cannot substitute for other necessary phases of recovery such as adequate rest and sleep time. In fact, cold-immersion is not the best recovery mode for all kinds of exercise as it is better suited when one needs quick recovery at short intervals. 

In fact, an actual ice bath is not the only way to get the results from this type of cold therapy. In principle, the benefits come from the use of water that is around 59°F (15°C) to immerse the body. It is also known as hydrotherapy and can be accomplished to a lesser extent by cold outdoor swims, and even cold showers. More recently, the development of cryotechnology means the benefits can also be achieved in a more sophisticated way. One example is the use of an electric cryotherapy machine

It is clear that ice baths have their benefits, but there are still some points to consider before taking one. Ice baths are not recommended for people with heart or kidney problems. Summarily, ice-baths are to be avoided if you have any condition that puts you at risk to affect your blood pressure, heart rate or circulation.

To be safe, it is best to speak with your doctor before deciding on whether or not ice-baths are suited for you.