Home Sport Ice Bath Benefits: How Can It Improve Your Health?

Ice Bath Benefits: How Can It Improve Your Health?

Written By
Kinjal Kanani
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Sport
Sep 7
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Reading time: 8 min
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There are many health hacks that claim to improve your life. People feel encouraged to try detox drinks, meditation, exercise regimes, and strict diet plans just to feel healthy. 

But what if there is one simple trick that boosts your health almost instantly? 

Sitting in an ice-filled bath sounds dreadful, and it might be to start with. Athletes praise the physical and mental effects of introducing their bodies to freezing cold temperatures. Ice baths work to repair muscle and tissue damage by reducing inflammation.

You might be asking – how do ice baths actually work? Is cold water immersion worth implementing into my routine? These are common questions we can address.

In this article, you’ll discover ice bath benefits and how it works for your health.

What Is an Ice Bath?

An ice bath refers to the submersion of your entire body in ice-cold water. This technique has many health benefits that usually help athletes during muscle recovery. You can also sit in the bath after an intense workout to regulate your central nervous system.

Exposing your skin to very cold water may seem uncomfortable, but eventually, you’ll get used to it. Some people take ice baths daily to feel the difference in their bodies. Cold exposure usually kick-starts active recovery by restricting blood vessels and reducing muscle swelling. 

However, not everyone can sit in an ice bath for 10–15 minutes. This is why you should take it one step at a time on your health-boosting journey. Sitting in the bath for 5 minutes is still enough to gain potential benefits like reduced fatigue and faster recovery.

7 Stunning Ice Bath Benefits

Cold water immersion has more benefits than you might think. The human body isn’t accustomed to extreme cold, but it can help regulate internal functions. If you don’t know how to face this challenge, start by having a cold shower after your next workout. 

Let’s take a look at seven amazing benefits of ice baths:

#1 Reduces pain

Submerging yourself in ice water can reduce swelling and make the pain more bearable. This is due to the cold temperatures that restrict blood vessels and slow down blood flow to areas of inflammation. If you have sore muscles from intense exercise, try sitting in an ice bath. 

If you are a runner of any level, an ice bath is a great option to relieve joint and muscle pain quickly. Haven’t felt the pleasure of a good run yet? Try the world-renowned Joggo app.

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#2 Boosts energy and alertness

Ice baths are known to increase your energy levels, leading to less stress throughout the day. More energy can encourage you to perform intense workouts or achieve productivity. Cold water immersion will increase circulation in your body – keeping the brain sharp and alert. 

If you want to study or remember important information, you could take an ice bath. Interacting with cold water may enhance your concentration through catecholamine release. This refers to the activation of your sympathetic nervous system – a process that releases endorphins.

#3 Great for the immune system

Cold therapy can increase leukocytes in your body that fight against diseases. This can help reduce cytotoxic cells that may potentially damage organs. A stronger immune system means you won’t get sick often and can heal from wounds or common illnesses very fast. 

Sudden exposure to ice water might also strengthen blood-brain barrier permeability. Eliminating toxic molecules is important for protecting brain neurons. In some cases, maintaining that permeable structure can prevent certain infections like meningitis and encephalitis. 

#4 Enhances quality of sleep

Taking a five-minute ice bath can produce more melatonin – a natural hormone that encourages tiredness. This can help you fall into a deep sleep that makes you feel great the next day. You can perform cold water immersion for 1–2 hours before going to bed to experience the effects. 

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#5 Lowers cortisol levels

Cortisol is a stress-inducing hormone that can prevent you from performing daily activities. Feeling overwhelmed after a long day at work isn’t a fun thing to experience, but taking an ice bath may battle that. Ice baths are one way to improve your physical and mental health.

All you need to do is spend around 5–15 minutes in cold water. A warm bath might seem more pleasant when facing stress, but freezing temperatures specifically lower those cortisol levels. People who suffer from anxiety and depression may also benefit from using ice baths. 

#6 Helps to decrease inflammation

An ice bath can affect inflammation by changing how your blood flows. This is great for certain injuries after strenuous exercise. Blood vessels constrict and stop painful areas from swelling. A faster recovery means you won’t have sore muscles that stop you from working out.

#7 Tightens the skin

Ice baths can help tighten pores and reduce red patches on your skin. Hot showers usually strip away natural oils that retain hydration, leading to dry skin that might break out in spots. Tightened pores mean bacteria and debris can’t clog the oiliest areas of your body. 

Sitting in an ice bath may help maintain sebaceous glands located in the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders. If you suffer from acne-prone skin, try taking ice baths once or twice a week. This might regulate your skin and prevent bacteria from entering your pores.

Why Do Athletes Take Ice Baths?

Athletes usually take an ice bath to reduce muscle soreness after intense workout sessions. This might also prevent delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) that derives from tough physical activity. Ice baths can be a part of their daily athletic training. 

Having painful or weak muscles can put a halt to future marathons or challenges. Recovery is super important for professional athletes who want to get straight back into the game. They can use ice baths to reduce inflammation that may be present in their muscles.

Sitting in an ice bath may also sharpen their concentration for future workouts. It can reduce fatigue and keep them motivated in the long run. Looking after their brain health is essential for participating in sports competitions and training to improve their physical skills.

Even though ice baths don’t directly cause weight loss, they might boost the metabolism. Athletes usually have good nutrition and workouts, but the coldness is super effective for increasing the metabolic rate by activating brown fat.

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How to Take an Ice Bath

There are a few things you need to do before submerging yourself in cold water. First, fill the tub up to your thighs and pour in a pound (around 450 g) of ice. You don’t want to risk spillage or overfilling the bath. After that, slowly put your feet and lower legs into the ice-cold water. 

Just be aware that it might take time to feel comfortable. It’s normal for your body to be confused and react suddenly to freezing temperatures. Once your legs have adjusted, put the rest of your body in and take deep, slow breaths to battle the initial shock. 

Start by doing 5 minutes and work your way up from there. You don’t need to do 15 minutes straight away to feel the effects. Do what works for your body and personal preferences. One thing to note – never exceed 15 minutes, as this can have adverse physical damages.

It’s important that you introduce your body to heat slowly. Sudden temperate changes can further prolong the shock, so don’t jump into a hot shower afterward.

However, you should speak to a doctor before trying the ice bath at home. This hack isn’t for everyone and might make certain health conditions worse. You can start by taking cold showers to get comfortable with the cold and then heat it up after a few minutes.

FAQs

What Is the temperature of an ice bath?

The temperature of your ice bath needs to be around 50–59° Fahrenheit/10–15° Celsius. This ensures your body is gaining the potential benefits of freezing cold water. If you want to try ice baths, remember to do what’s comfortable for you and never stay in the ice bath for too long.

How long should I stay in the ice bath?

Aim to stay in the ice bath for 5–10 minutes if you’ve never done it before. Don’t sit in the bath straight away if you aren’t ready for the shock yet. However, you shouldn’t go above 15 minutes. Staying in the bath for longer may cause hyperthermia, heart stroke, or arrhythmias. 

Could an ice bath be harmful?

Yes, there are certain risks when taking an ice bath. These risks only occur if you exceed the recommended limit. You might experience high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, and wound infections. If you have cardiovascular disease, talk to a doctor before sitting in an ice bath.

A Word From Our MD

Ice baths may seem intimidating, but they can help improve your health. 

Sitting in cold water for a few minutes will improve the performance of fitness enthusiasts. You just need some motivation and brain power to submerge your body in a tub full of ice. Even people who want to lose weight can increase their metabolism in cold environments.

You might be thinking – are the benefits of ice baths worth it? Taking an ice bath might be the first step if you want to enforce life-changing habits. Cold water immersion helps reduce pain, boost energy levels, strengthen the immune system, and tighten skin. 

Talk to a doctor if you’re unsure about taking ice baths. People with heart or skin diseases should always seek professional advice first. Never exceed the 15-minute limit when sitting in ice-cold water since this can spark health risks like hyperthermia and strokes. 

Conclusion 

So, are ice baths dangerous? Do they really improve your health?

Ice baths are safe to do when you follow the right duration. You can step into the ice-cold water for a few minutes to feel the physical effects on your body. This is a great technique to use for muscle recovery and may even sharpen your concentration and brain capacity. 

Just remember to do what feels comfortable and seek medical advice before doing it.

Written by
Kinjal Kanani

Kinjal Kanani is a medical doctor who graduated in 2015 from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and has been working in her profession since then. Kinjal’s goal is to increase health awareness and help people improve their health through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

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Fact checked by the medical team
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Comments (1)

  1. avatar
    Gordon
    8 Sep, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    I’m a 72 year old male in good health and wonder how you would compare the benefits to ice water baths to cold showers?
    I’ve been doing a three minute cold shower most days and I definitely have more energy after for a good boost to start the day.

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