5 Benefits of an Ice Bath [For Recovery]
Cold exposure has been used as a healing method for centuries. An ice bath can soothe muscles, reduce inflammation, improve breathing, and give your mood a major boost. It’s no surprise that many top athletes choose ice baths as an important part of their recovery and conditioning.
FightCamp trainers Flo Master, Aaron Swenson, and Coach PJ take the plunge to tell you about the 5 benefits of cold immersion therapy and discuss some of the questions people have before they start an ice bath routine.
What Is an Ice Bath?
An ice bath is immersion in ice cold water. You can make an ice bath by simply running cold water into a bathtub and adding several buckets of ice. The temperature of an ice bath should typically be around 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Does an Ice Bath Do?
An ice bath has a range of benefits for both body and mind. Ice baths will not only help your body feel better, but they can also improve your performance and even your mood.
Are Ice Baths Good For You?
Ice baths are good for you when done safely. Just one ice bath can help soothe your muscles, reduce inflammation, regulate your breathing, lift your mood, and even increase your energy level. Continued use of ice baths can increase your metabolism, improve mental health, and even give you a competitive edge, teaching you how to breathe through physical discomfort.
Here Are 5 Benefits of an Ice Bath:
1. Muscle Recovery
Ice baths can do wonders for muscle recovery because they reduce swelling, achiness, and inflammation in the body.
2. Stimulates Central Nervous System
Jumping into ice cold water will give your central nervous system a jolt, increasing alertness. Just try a cold shower in the morning and you can probably skip the coffee.
3. Boosts Metabolism
Cold exposure increases the brown adipose tissue in the body, which is responsible for converting energy into heat to keep the body warm - this is what gives you the metabolism boost.
4. Develops Breathing
You cannot spend any amount of time in an ice bath without learning to breathe, which calms you down and relaxes the body.
5. Aids Mental Health
An ice bath can work like a reset button for your brain - it can actually help clear your mind and lift your mood.
Are Ice Baths Dangerous?
Ice baths are relatively safe, but they can be dangerous for individuals with underlying health issues. Always consult your doctor before starting any new fitness regime like ice bath treatments. For healthy individuals, immersion in an ice bath might initially trigger a natural fear response as your body tells your brain it is unsafe. This is where being able to sustain your breath through discomfort comes into play.
When Should You Take an Ice Bath?
Ice baths are excellent after a workout. Taking an ice bath after a workout will help accelerate recovery and reduce fatigue by preventing inflammation, stimulating the central nervous system, and developing regulated breathing.
Are Ice Baths Good For Recovery?
Many athletes love a good ice bath for recovery because it reduces inflammation, swelling, and achiness from an intense workout. The cold exposure essentially kickstarts your body’s ability to recover.
How Long Do Athletes Sit In Ice Baths?
Athletes usually sit in an ice bath for as few as five minutes to over an hour. Don’t try to break any records with your first time in an ice bath - acclimate yourself by starting with smaller increments of time, like five or ten minutes. Once this feels comfortable, then you can work up to longer amounts of time.
The real ice bath challenge is enduring the first minute. The initial shock to your system is why the first minute is the most difficult, but if you breathe through it, your muscles become numb, and it gets much easier.
The benefits of ice baths go far beyond just physical recovery for athletes, an ice bath can be great for anyone. Remember to start with shorter periods of time and work your way up. When performed safely, an ice bath can make you feel better inside and out.
The Author: PJ Shirdan is a FightCamp Founding Coach who claims that boxing wasn’t his first love, but it saved his life. PJ grew up in the Philadelphia area and played football as a young athlete. After a life-changing event, he found boxing as a way to heal, escape, and, ultimately, rebuild his life as he became a competitive fighter. PJ came to Los Angeles and continued to hone his skills as a boxer and as a NASM and TRX Certified Personal Trainer. He began to train other boxers, UFC fighters, and athletes using a holistic approach. This included mental and physical training, nutritional counseling, and empowering his clients with his hallmark motivational style. Today, he is known throughout the FightCamp Team as the go-to person to close out company-wide meetings with the same optimism and positive messages he delivers in his FightCamp workouts. When PJ isn’t filming workouts, he’s enjoying a great burger with his wife, Lindsey, and living his #BestDayEver.