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Are Ice Baths Good For You? Tips from Auckland Athletes and Trainers.

Are Ice baths good for you

Are you looking for a new way to enhance your athletic performance and recovery? I bet you didn’t consider the art of ice bathing!

So, are Ice baths good for you? Let’s delve a little deeper and you can decide.

Auckland’s top athletes and trainers swear by this practice, which involves immersing yourself in ice-cold water for a short period of time. But how do you master this challenging technique, if you want to do it correctly, you will need to better understand what is required.

In this article, we’ll share tips and insights from the experts themselves. Discover the benefits of ice bathing, from reducing inflammation and muscle soreness to boosting your immune system. Learn how to properly prepare for an ice bath, including the ideal water temperature and duration. And hear from experienced athletes and trainers on their personal strategies for staying calm and focused during this intense experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting out on your fitness journey, mastering the art of ice bathing can take your performance to the next level.

Benefits of Ice Bathing for Athletes

Ice bathing has been used for centuries as a way to promote healing and reduce inflammation, and I’m sure the Northern Hemisphere does it by default each year and is left wondering what all the fuss is about.

For athletes, ice bathing is seen as an effective way to speed up recovery after intense workouts or competitions. This I might add is very true – personal experience tells me this is by far one of the best things I do to improve muscle recovery.

So how it works is, that cold water helps to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling, which can help to alleviate pain and soreness. Additionally, ice bathing can boost the immune system and promote better circulation, which can help to reduce the risk of injury – all a bit of a bonus all around right?

One of the main benefits of ice bathing is that it can help to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of intense exercise and can cause muscles to feel sore and fatigued – this is that burning sensation you get when you pushed past your failure rep in the gym.

However, by reducing the amount of lactic acid in the muscles, ice bathing can help athletes to recover faster and perform better in their next workout or competition.

We’re all up for that I’m sure!

Ice bathing has also been shown to have mental benefits for athletes. The intense cold can help to stimulate the production of adrenaline and endorphins, which can boost mood and mental clarity. For athletes, or for anyone for that matter who is dealing with stress or anxiety, ice bathing can be a powerful tool for promoting relaxation and reducing tension.

Science Behind Ice Bathing

From Students to Professors. The evidence behind cold plunging has been researched. Are ice baths good for you? The research is a mixed bag, with some categorically suggesting it is, while another facility suggests, it’s a waste of time.

The science behind ice bathing is based on the principles of thermodynamics, which will take you back to your Physics classroom which is when energy deals with a working system.

That’s Deep man, deep!

But, when you immerse yourself in cold water, it also reduces blood flow to the skin and extremities. This helps to conserve heat and maintain core body temperature. Shivering helps here too.

So, as the body cools down, it triggers a series of physiological responses that help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. That’s the good part.

Cold water immersion has been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that can cause swelling and pain. Additionally, ice bathing can help to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which can help to speed up the healing process.

The benefits of ice bathing are not just limited to physical recovery. Overwhelming evidential research has shown that cold water immersion can have mental benefits as well. Cold water stimulates the production of adrenaline and endorphins, which can promote a sense of alertness.

We always say that becoming more alert with cold plunging is a no-brainer – try falling asleep in Ice Cold Water; aint gonna happen!

The Win-Hof method of cold water immersion therapy is a quick read if you want to learn a few good pointers about the science behind cold water immersion therapy.

But pushing the positive and negative science to the side, it’s how you feel that’s important. if you feel it’s making a difference, then push on. Why does anyone who’s cold plunging need a bunch of white coats and some random scientific papers to tell them otherwise?

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Ice Bathing

When it comes to ice bathing, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid. Some of the most common mistakes include:

Staying in the water too long: The ideal duration for an ice bath is between 5 and 10 minutes. Any longer than that and you risk damaging your skin or causing other health issues.

Starting with too cold of water: The ideal temperature for an ice bath is between 8° and 15° Celcius. (48 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit) Starting with water that’s too cold can be dangerous and lead to hypothermia. We find generally tap water in the winter months to be sufficient. Freeze some water in a few 1L milk bottles and this work well for those summer months to bring down the temperature a notch.

Not warming up properly: After the ice bath, make sure to warm up slowly and gradually. Avoid jumping into a hot tub or sauna right away, as this can be dangerous and cause your body to go into shock.

Incorporating Ice Bathing into Your Fitness Routine

Prepping to plunge alongside your fitness routine is important and not only does it improve the enjoyment but you receive better results from an ice bath when you do this part correctly.

With the right approach, ice bathing can be a safe and effective way to take your fitness routine to the next level.

The New Zealand All Blacks, Black Sticks, and the Chicago Bulls basketball team have all regularly iced themselves post-game to recover. Even the French in the last Rugby World Cup, tried this method to help beat the All Blacks.

Another athlete who is a firm believer in the benefits of ice bathing is Australian Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps. Phelps has been known to take ice baths after every swim practice, and he credits the practice with helping him to recover faster and perform at a higher level – I wonder if that’s the reason his feet are so big?

Another athlete who swears by ice bathing is NFL quarterback Tom Brady. Brady has been known to take ice baths on a regular basis, and he believes that the practice helps him to stay focused and energized throughout the season.

Preparing for Your First Freeze Tub Ice Bath

Once you have purchased your Freeze Tub Solo, it’s very easy to set up. Just follow the below instructions.

Once you’re set-up, one of the most important things to consider is the water temperature. You can certainly add an ice bag or two if you’re feeling brave. But hose water tends to be fine for the newcomers.

Start by filling the tub and once you get 50% full of cold water and gradually add ice until the temperature reaches the desired range. You tend to stop at the 80% full mark of the Freeze Tub, just so you don’t waste water once you submerge yourself.

Before you get into the tub, take a few deep breaths and try to relax your body. Some people do this for a solid 2-3 mins, there are some breathing methods you can follow and this can help to reduce any anxiety or tension you may be feeling.

Once you’re in the tub, focus on slow, controlled breathing to help calm your nerves and regulate your body temperature.

Make sure to fully submerge your body in the water, up to your neck if possible.

Don’t worry, your first plunge tends to be like a pig in a food pit, you’re not caring too much about anything else, and you’re wanting to focus on getting in amongst it all – but take your time and gradually ease yourself into the cold water but your breathing tends to be taken over by uncomfortable laughing, some potential cursing and the overall deck-warriors who are telling you to harden up.

Dismantling Your Freeze Tub Portable Ice Bath

Freeze Tub has designed its tubs to be portable. When packed down, the Solo weighs 3.5kg. Although it’s perfectly safe to leave it outside in all weather conditions, year-round however you can store it inside if you wish.

Follow these instructions to dismantle your Freeze Tub Solo

How to Take an Ice Bath

The ideal duration for an ice bath is between 5 and 10 minutes. Any longer than that and you risk damaging your skin or causing other health issues. During the ice bath, it’s important to keep your body moving to help promote blood flow and reduce stiffness.

You will notice however you will want to remain still, but when you move. You will recognise how much your body has regulated its surface and core temperature and tried to warm you up because any movement will be very cold on your skin.

Some athletes prefer to alternate between hot and cold water immersion, which is known as contrast therapy. This involves switching between a hot tub or sauna and a cold ice bath to help promote circulation and reduce inflammation.

Be mindful of contrast therapy and talk to your health care provider initially to ensure your heart is okay to cope with plunging into cold and hot water.

After the ice bath, make sure to warm up slowly and gradually. Take a warm shower or wrap yourself in a warm towel to help raise your body temperature.

Ice Bathing Tips from Top Athletes and Trainers

If you’re looking to take your ice bathing to the next level, here are some tips from top athletes and trainers:

Focus on your breath: Taking slow, deep breaths before and during your session can help to calm your nerves, regulate your body temperature and lessen anxiety.

Use visualization techniques: Imagine yourself in a calm, relaxing place to help reduce anxiety and tension.

Listen to music: Some athletes find that listening to music can help them to stay focused and calm during an ice bath.

Incorporate contrast therapy: Alternating between hot and cold water immersion can help to promote circulation and reduce inflammation.

Stay hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your ice bath to help promote hydration.

Alternatives to Ice Bathing

If you’re not quite ready for the intensity of an ice bath, we won’t tell your friends.

There are some other recovery techniques that you can try. Some popular alternatives include:

Epsom salt baths: Adding Epsom salt to a warm bath can help to reduce muscle soreness and promote relaxation.

Foam rolling: Using a foam roller can help to release tension and promote circulation in the muscles.

Massage therapy: Professional massage therapy can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the muscles.

Conclusion: Are Ice baths good for you?

So, are ice baths good for you? Well, we think they are a powerful tool for anyone looking to enhance their mental performance, improve their immune system, gain clarity, reduce anxiety, and recover faster from either injury or intense sporting sessions.

By reducing inflammation, promoting circulation, and boosting the immune system, ice bathing can help athletes to recover faster and perform at a higher level.

However, it’s important to properly prepare yourself before jumping in and to avoid common mistakes that can lead to injury or other health issues. With the right approach, ice bathing can be a safe and effective way to take your fitness routine to the next level.


  • Dale Folland

    Dale is a seasoned Nutritionist with over two decades of experience in the health and wellness industry. His expertise has been sought after by elite groups such as NZ SAS Soldiers and NZ Fire Service, where he has contributed to optimising their performance and well-being. Dale is also a renowned speaker and educator and his work has been recognised in publications like the Daily Mail and various US media outlets.

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