If you’ve been wondering why people have been posting videos of hopping into icy cold water, often smiling, the discussing Ice Bath benefits, this article covers the chilling reasons why (okay I’ll try and stop with the puns – but probably won’t)
Yes, the ‘ice bath’ has only recently been trending, but this cold water immersion therapy is not new. In fact, this technique is age-old, and it seems people have rediscovered the associated health and wellness benefits.
You would have seen Professional athletes on the sideline or at a sports game injured, they have strapped to their injury some ice. It’s not new that a reduction in muscle inflammation helps recovery than if left.
Fitness enthusiasts have been recently using cold water immersion therapy as a post-workout recovery method also. A muscle doesn’t need to be injured to benefit from ice baths, cold water dips are a form of cryotherapy, which involves using cold water to treat various mental and physical issues.
If plunging into icy cold water appeals to you, or you are open-minded to try it out, you have two options of Ice baths to choose from, the Freeze Tub Pro Ice Bath and the most popular Ice Bath in New Zealand, Freeze Tub Solo Ice Bath
First, it’s best to understand Ice Bath Benefits how it works and what advantages you can expect.
How To Take an Ice Bath
We don’t really need to tell you how to suck eggs right? Most adults are aware of how to bathe.
However, Ice Baths are a little different because of the sudden shock the body gets upon entering so not knowing how to dip in icy cold water can cause more harm than good. Hence, it is better to familiarise yourself with the proper technique.
Generally, in Cryotherapy or cold water immersion, you take a 10-15 minute dip in frigid water (5-15°C). This is usually done directly after intense exercise. Make sure your Freeze Tub is at its ideal temperature by getting a waterproof thermometer.
Bear in mind, if you are plunging into your ice bath in Summer, you may be able to handle adding ice to the water. If you’re ice bathing in the winter, just regular hose water for the beginner will probably be enough.
When you’re just starting out to experience the ice bath benefits, you may just want to start with the water temperature being between 12-15 degrees for 3-4 minutes and build up a tolerance to 3 to 11 degrees for 10-15 mins to receive the full effects of cold water therapy.
Freeze Tub recommends having someone watch over you while you take the plunge, especially if you are trialing your plunge around the 3-degree mark as your body will receive a slight freeze shock and everyone reacts differently.
We also recommend talking with your healthcare provider or Doctor initially before immersion in cold water.
Advantages of Ice Bathing
The Ice Bath Benefits aren’t set out just for athletes. Freeze Tubs have been used for individuals wanting to improve mental resilience and improve their concentration, focus breathing, mood, and immune system.
We can explain in detail all the health benefits of plunging 3-4 days a week into ice but it’s not until you experience it do you actually become aware of how good it makes you feel.
Here’s more about how taking dips in icy cold water can be beneficial.
An ice bath can improve your mood by resetting your nervous system. Immersing yourself in cold water is like welcoming a low dose of stress that puts your body and mind through a flight or fight situation.
This causes the activation of a stream of hormones, including norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine, resulting in an elevation of mood. Check out the Ice Bath Science page to learn more.
Pain Relief and a Reduction in Inflammation
Icy cold water can effectively numb the soft tissues of your body, thereby slowing down the transmission of pain signals to your nerves.
When the sensors in your brain sense the low temperatures, it triggers blood flow to your torso to insulate your body’s vital organs. Once out of the cold water, oxygenated blood flows back to the other body organs to promote recovery. You just need to have an injury to see how beneficial ice is to recovery.
The cold temperature of the icy cold water constricts the nerve cells to reduce blood flow. The pain is moderated with less blood in the injured area of your body so all these internal body changes end up helping to reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness from training.
So if you suffer from pain from an injury or have been experiencing chronic pain, like arthritis, with ice baths, the affected area will draw a lot of heat to alleviate pain.
Ice baths can increase your heart rate, activate the sympathetic nervous system and constrict blood vessels. This is an ice bath benefit but it is also a warning, if you have any heart irregularities, talk to your doctor before taking the plunge.
This can cause a range of positive benefits in managing stress. The release of norepinephrine and adrenaline can uplift your mood, reduce lethargy and help you hop out of low mood and depression.
With ice baths, the body may go into a temporary state of cold shock, enhancing your overall mood and emotions. Be it depression, anxiety, or stress; ice baths can provide respite by calming your system.
We have received so many testimonials from people (and parents of teenagers) discussing the improvement in either their ability to cope with situations or improved mood.
Make Ice Baths fun…as much fun as plunging oneself into bloody cold water can be, however. But like like the ice bucket challenge all those years ago for bringing awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) it was a fun task to throw water over mates and family members.
So make Freeze Tub a family affair and jump in for 3 minutes 3 x a week.
With icy cold dips, you trigger the release of endorphins in your body to increase the production of norepinephrine.
These hormones can boost your mood and, in turn, enable better sleep. With improved sleep and rest, your body can manage pain better. An ice bath helps lower your body’s core temperature after a rigorous workout.
Hence, it can calm you down and prevent fatigue, helping you feel more relaxed and sleep better.
Depth of Focus
Cold water exposure can increase blood flow into the brain, triggering an instant sense of vigilance, focus, and increased concentration.
Also, the endorphins and neurotransmitters released in the process render a generalised feeling of well-being.
An ice bath conditions your brain to cope with stressful situations that your body and mind go through.
The cold water immersion can create a balance by elevating serotonin levels to render an uplifted state of mind and energy. With anxiety escaping the body, you can naturally feel a kick of energy in your body, helping you feel good both inside and out.
Ice Bath Benefits the body in ways we have never imagined.
Activated Nervous System
Nerves in your body send signals to the brain and control the movement of muscles.
Drenching yourself in icy cold water is something we naturally don’t want to do and often it’s a mind-over-matter situation.
Cold Water Therapy can reduce the pace at which your nerve sends pain signals to the brain. Your body’s Vagus nerve can be activated with a cold water bath.
The Vagus nerve sends distress messages to your brain, and in response, the body releases the norepinephrine hormone. Jump in some icy goodness and get that nervous system of yours activated and charged!
Ice bath benefits your metabolism and its response to insulin which is a hormone that controls blood sugar levels when they are elevated. Although more research is required, Ice Baths have been shown to help improve results for people who suffer from diabetes.
Plunging into tubs of cold water, below 10 degrees Celsius, activates brown fat (Brown Adipose Tissue) Brown fat helps to keep your body from cooling down too much when it’s presented with a cold environment, snow, or ice baths.
Brown fat stores energy and burns that energy to keep your body warm so if your body is burning energy, it’s burning calories to keep you warm. When your body’s metabolism starts to increase, it causes something called thermogenesis, and this speeds up the rate at which you burn fat.
It regulates the sugar, of glucose within the muscle tissue and increases fat metabolism.
All in all. Coupled with exercise, healthy eating, and regular Ice Baths help burn fat – who would’ve thought?
The Risks of Ice Baths
While there are a host of benefits that you can expect from an ice bath, it isn’t completely devoid of risks.
Don’t be one of those people who think you can outperform the others and stay in the water longer – no winner trophies here.
Hypothermia, or a steep drop in the body temperature, can be dangerous if you stay in freezing water for long. We don’t recommend staying in your Freeze Tub below 10 degrees for longer than 12 mins and no longer than 4 to 5 mins at 3 degrees.
You could also experience a faster heart rate when bathing in icy cold water. Generally, the veins and arteries in your blood constrict making it a little harder for your heart to pump blood, this could temporarily elevate your blood pressure and cause your heart to pump faster. Generally, this is safe for most people as this occurs with other day-to-day situations also, but like all new health regimes, discuss this with your Doctor.
Tips For Taking Ice Baths Safely
Here are a few ways to ensure you take your ice bath safely and maintain effective ice bath benefits.
- The water temperature should always be between 11-15°C for beginners. Get colder as you go on.
- Limit your time in the ice bath based on experience; preferably, do not stay longer than 15 minutes.
- Start your bath by immersing your legs for 1 minute initially, before heading for a full-body plunge.
- Counting, meditating, or keeping your mind relaxed can help soak the best benefits of your ice bath.
- Write down issues that you have; pains etc and in 3 months, check out the original notes you made.
A proven method used for recovery- ice baths can provide overall wellness of mind and body when approached with safety.
You can enjoy your icy bath at home in a large tub. Immersing the whole body in the tub can reap maximum benefits from your ice bath experience.
It can regulate your body’s temperature, establish a mind-body control and elicit an optimal hormonal response. Known to be a viable tool for muscle recovery, especially if you’ve suffered an injury or want to relax your body after an endurance workout, the Freeze Tub is undoubtedly worth a try!