The age-old home remedy to treat a swollen ankle or sore muscles has been to soak it in cold water. Ice bath helps in reducing the muscle damage caused during exercising and also speeds the recovery process.
Ice baths have been here for a while now. But it has now started to gain popularity. An ice bath helps you feel better and helps in recovery.
Potential Benefits of Ice Bath
1. Relaxes Sore Muscles
Ice bath benefits our body by relaxing the aching muscles and easing out sore muscles. The most attractive benefit of an ice bath is it makes the body simply feel good.
After an intense workout, the body immersing in the cold is a relief to burning muscles(1).
2. Improves the central nervous system
Ice bath benefits us by improving the functioning of the central nervous system. It aids sleep and makes you feel better with less fatigue. It enhances the reaction time in most people and for workouts in the future.
3. Limits Inflammation
The body often feels sore after an intense workout session or a training session. Ice bath benefits our health by reducing the inflammation caused due to the workout session. Ice bath decreases the local temperature right after exercising, and that limits the inflammatory response and reduces the amount of inflammation, which helps in a speedy recovery.
4. Reduces the Effects of Humidity
The ice bath benefits us by decreasing the effect of heat and humidity(2). Usually, before participating in a race where there is an increase in temperature or humidity, taking an ice bath helps. It lowers the temperature of the lower core body by a few degrees that leads to better performance.
[Read: Health Benefits of Ice Bath]
5. It Trains the Vagus Nerve
Aurimas Juodka, who is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, says that Ice bath benefits majorly in training the vagus nerve. The nerve is linked with the parasympathetic nervous system, and straining the nerve helps it to face stressful situations more adequately.
6. Faster Recovery
It is said the ice bath aids in faster recovery from injuries after a workout session.
A study performed by sports medicine stated that immersing the body in an ice bath helps to repair muscles as the activity increases the tissue oxygenation.
Although a contrary study in 2015 stated that ice baths reduce pain and inflammation, they could also delay the recovery process as it reduces inflammation.
Ice baths after a workout are preferred by many athletes to reduce muscle soreness.
[Read: Epsom Salt for Sore Muscles]
How is an Ice Bath Done?
There are a few things you must be aware of before plunging into an ice bath
- To utilize the ice bath benefits, the temperature of the ice bath must be around 10-15 degrees Celsius or 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You should spend extra time in an ice bath as it can have severe consequences. The recommended time for an ice bath is fifteen minutes.
- The right way to take an ice bath is to submerge your entire body in an ice bath to gain the best blood vessel constriction.
- Start by slowly immersing your hands, feet, and then the lower legs. As the body gets used to it, move towards the chest.
- Do not exceed 6-8 minutes at the recommended temperature for an ice-bath.
Precautions that Must be Followed
- If you are trying an Ice bath at home, using the right temperature of the water is important. Use a thermometer to set it at 15 degrees C or above.
- If you have a pre-existing cardiovascular condition or high blood pressure, this can put you at risk.
A widespread side effect is feeling cold once the body is immersed in cold water. But there are more risks attached to it.
- It can worsen heart conditions in people with a history of blood pressure or cardiac disease.
- An ice bath can cause a decrease in body temperature, and the body being immersed in ice can constrict the blood vessels and slow down the blood circulation in the body.
- You might also suffer from hypothermia if exposed to an ice bath for an extended period of time.
If you are considering an ice bath to recover from an athletic event or training session, then ensure you follow all the guidelines, especially the temperature and timing. Sportsman often promotes ice bath health benefits as it has a relaxing effect.
1. When Should I Take an Ice Bath?
It is suggested you take an ice bath 30 minutes after finishing a workout session.
2. Can Ice Burn Fat?
The book “The 4-hour body” states that ice baths help in burning calories. You must take an ice bath thrice weekly to see effective results as the drop in temperature allows the stem cells to make more brown fat that makes the body burn the extra calories.