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Is Taking The Cold Plunge Worthwhile?

Ice bath Auckland

Freeze Tub was tagged in a post the other day; it was short and sweet. It simply said:

Cold Plunge Therapy – She Loves It, No Really, She Does and that’s it.

Following was a photo of a very grumpy-looking teenage athlete exiting their Freeze Tub Solo with an unpleasant look on her face.

There was no comment, just a tag, and that photo.

We weren’t too sure if it was even a positive post. We were thinking perhaps a little sarcastic, but just the look of this young person who appeared like she just wanted to be with her friends and not at a post-sport ice bath recovery session.

But whoever it was, we hoped the Ice Bath helped you recover faster and you really love Freeze Tubs as much as we do.

Taking ice baths has become increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for its numerous benefits. We’ve all seen the crunching tackles during a game of football or the lashing someone gets from an out-of-control hockey stick, but what you don’t often see is the intensive ice therapy that occurs, off the field while you’re still enjoying watching the game. Sports Injury + Ice. = Faster Recovery.

Understanding The Concept of Cold Plunging.

Let’s explore the concept of ice baths, delve into the science behind them, and discuss their key advantages.

Additionally, we will provide tips on how to take ice baths safely and debunk some common myths associated with this practice.

Ice baths, also known as cold water immersion therapy, involve submerging the body in cold, and at times, very icy water for certain time periods.

Seems simple enough so far right? It is, but despite its simplicity, this practice has a long history and has been used for various purposes throughout the years.

What Is All This Dunking In Cold Water About?

An ice bath is a therapeutic technique that involves immersing the body in a tub filled with cold water, usually at temperatures between 10°-15° degrees Celsius (50-59F)

The recommended duration for an ice bath session is typically between 10 to 20 minutes. Often, a lot less if the water temperature is less than 10° degrees Celsius. We can’t be promoting frostbite now, can we?

Ice Baths come in all shapes and sizes, literally and like most things. If you go for the cheaper models, you will, without a doubt find your Ice Bath bursting at the seams, and it’s not with excitement!

Consider this, you might be 70 or 80kg and you’re getting into a tub of water, 400L of water, you need your tub to be tough!

You also need your Ice Bath to be big enough, durable enough, and the seams to be welded and double-stitched. The last thing you want is to be showing off on social media your new ice bath, looking all fancy and cool (see what I did there?), and POOF…you disappear out the side of the tub flapping about on the ground like a fish out of water. Don’t be that person.

The History and Evolution of Ice Baths

ice bath history

We’ve been around for quite sometime, so lets just say we’ve become experts at cold plunging.

The use of cold water immersion for medicinal purposes can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans. They believed in the healing properties of cold water and used it to treat various conditions, including inflammation and pain relief.

I wonder if Maximus from The Gladiator had Ice Baths after his fights? He did…I went to one of his fights.

I digress, over time, ice baths became a common practice among athletes for post-training recovery.

Ancient Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, recognized the therapeutic benefits of cold water immersion. They believed that cold water could stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and reduce inflammation.

Apparently, Hippocrates himself would often prescribe cold water baths to his patients as a form of treatment. I bet they wouldn’t have been as durable and portable as the Freeze Tub Solo, however.

Ice Bath Auckland

The same Ice bath Hippocrates used! True!*

*Not true.

During the Roman Empire, cold water baths were an integral part of daily life. The Romans built elaborate bathhouses, known as thermae, where people could relax and socialize while enjoying the benefits of cold water immersion.

These bathhouses were not only places for physical cleansing but also served as social gathering spots where people could discuss politics, business, and philosophy.

Sounds quite nice. Probably, a little like the Roman equivalent of Facebook.

As time went on, the use of cold water immersion spread to other cultures and regions. In medieval Europe, cold water baths were used to treat various ailments, including fevers and skin conditions.

Monks in monasteries would often take cold water baths as part of their daily routines, believing it to be a form of purification for the body and soul. Today, we’ve seen the benefits of cold water therapy on mental health.

Fast forward to the modern era, and Ice Bath Auckland has become an essential tool for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. After intense physical activity, like a workout or a football game, athletes often use ice baths to aid in their recovery process.

The cold water helps reduce muscle inflammation and soreness, allowing athletes to bounce back faster and perform at their best. Trust us on this one!

Ice baths have also gained popularity in the realm of cryotherapy, a form of cold therapy that involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for short periods.

Cryotherapy chambers, which use liquid nitrogen to create freezing temperatures, have become trendy among celebrities and wellness enthusiasts seeking the benefits of cold exposure for overall health and well-being.

While the concept of ice baths may seem simple, its history and evolution reveal a long-standing belief in the therapeutic power of cold water immersion. Whether it’s for ancient civilizations seeking healing or modern athletes aiming for faster recovery, ice baths continue to be a popular and effective practice in promoting physical well-being.

The Science Behind Ice Baths

While ice baths have been widely used, it is essential to understand the scientific basis behind their effectiveness.

The Role of Cold Exposure in Health

Cold exposure has been found to have numerous health benefits. When the body is exposed to cold temperatures, it triggers a physiological response known as thermogenesis. This process stimulates the production of brown adipose tissue, also known as “good fat,” which helps burn calories and generates heat and therefore helps to lose weight.

Furthermore, cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that improves focus, attention, and mood. This is why many people experience a sense of invigoration and mental clarity after an ice bath.

Research has shown that regular exposure to cold temperatures can also boost the immune system. Cold exposure stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and diseases.

In fact, studies have found that individuals who regularly take ice baths have a lower incidence of colds and flu. Seems counterproductive if you’re getting outside on the deck having an Ice Bath in the winter, but if the Dr says!!!

What we’ve also seen is cold exposure has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. When the body is exposed to cold, whether it be ice packs or ice baths it reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that contribute to chronic inflammation. Sounds cool!

This reduction in inflammation can help alleviate symptoms of various inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

How Ice Baths Can Affect the Body.

Freeze Tub Review

During an ice bath, the cold water acts as a form of cryotherapy, causing vasoconstriction or the narrowing of blood vessels. This constriction reduces inflammation and swelling, promoting faster recovery and reducing muscle soreness after intense workouts.

In addition, the cold temperature numbs nerve endings, providing temporary pain relief for injuries or chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Ice baths also have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system. When exposed to cold temperatures, the body’s heart rate and blood pressure decrease, allowing the heart to work more efficiently. This improved cardiovascular function can lead to better overall heart health and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, cold exposure has been found to enhance the body’s antioxidant defence system. Cold temperatures stimulate the production of antioxidants, which are molecules that neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. By increasing antioxidant levels, ice baths can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, ice baths have been shown to improve sleep quality. The drop in body temperature during an ice bath can promote the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This can result in deeper and more restful sleep, leading to better overall health and well-being.

It is important to note that while ice baths offer numerous benefits, they are not suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease or cardiovascular disorders, should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating ice baths into their routine. Additionally, it is crucial to follow proper guidelines and gradually acclimate the body to cold exposure to avoid any adverse effects.

Key Benefits of Ice Baths

Ice baths offer a wide range of benefits that can significantly impact not only athletic performance but also research has shown to regulate sleep patterns, help with (hangovers) and jet jag, and improve mental alertness (probably because it’s bloody cold and anyone would be alert if they jumped into an ice bath tub)

Boosting Recovery After Exercise

One of the primary advantages of ice baths is their ability to accelerate recovery after strenuous physical activity. The cold water immersion helps to reduce microtrauma caused by exercise, aiding in the repair process and reducing the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It’s important to point out that recovery is not just about Ice Baths; nutrition plays a critical role in muscle recovery so ensuring you have over 30g protein after an intensive exercise session.

Also, ice baths promote the rapid removal of metabolic waste products, such as lactic acid, from the muscles, allowing for faster recovery and subsequent performance improvement.

Enhancing Immune Function

Cold water immersion has been shown to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells.

These cells play a crucial role in defending the body against infections and diseases, making regular immersion in icy water an effective way to strengthen the immune system. What some hard-out Freeze Tubbers have done is gone out to get a complete blood test from the Doctor. They plan to re-test themselves to see the change in white blood cell count, cholesterol, and C-reactive Protein, which measures the inflammatory conditions of the body.

We’ll follow up with the results at a later time.

Improving Mental Health

Besides its physical benefits, ice baths can also positively impact mental health. Cold water immersion triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain.

This can lead to reduced stress levels, increased relaxation, and an improved sense of well-being.

How to Take an Ice Bath Safely

Taking an ice bath safely is essential to reap the full benefits without risking any adverse effects. There are dangers when a 37.5° degree warm body plunges into an Ice Tub with 10° C water. Although the risk is low, there are risks, so we encourage you if you do have some cardiovascular issues, to discuss this therapy with your Doctor.

Preparing for an Ice Bath

Before immersing yourself in an ice bath, ensuring your body is adequately prepared is crucial. Start by hydrating well before the session and avoid consuming coffee and alcohol, as these can affect blood circulation and thermoregulation.

Additionally, it’s recommended to have a lukewarm shower or light exercise to increase blood flow to the extremities before entering the ice bath. You can consider wearing ‘active wear’ as this is easier on the skin as some people find cold water irritating on their skin, but we find not many people provide this type of feedback for us.

Tips for a Safe and Effective Ice Bath

  1. Gradually introduce yourself to the cold water to allow your body to adjust – Hi, My name is Tom.
  2. Avoid submerging your head in cold water, as it can lead to a decrease in body temperature and discomfort.
  3. Engage in deep breathing to help your body adapt to the cold and promote relaxation.
  4. Monitor your body temperature and signs of discomfort throughout the session.
  5. After the ice bath, warm up slowly by dressing in warm clothing or using a warm towel.

Debunking Common Myths About Ice Baths

Despite the many benefits of ice baths, some misconceptions persist. Let’s dispel some of these misconceptions to provide a clearer understanding of this practice and why you should be integrating it alongside your health and wellness program.

The Truth About Ice Baths and Weight Loss

Contrary to popular belief, ice baths are not a magic solution for weight loss. While they may temporarily increase calorie expenditure due to thermogenesis, this effect is minimal and not sufficient for significant weight loss. You’re not going to freeze off that doughnut and pie you had for lunch.

It’s essential to combine ice baths with a balanced diet and regular exercise for optimal weight management.

Ice Baths and Muscle Growth: What’s the Real Story?

Some people believe that ice baths can hinder muscle growth by interfering with the inflammatory response necessary for muscle repair and adaptation.

However, the way I see it and what research suggests, is that ice baths used immediately after workouts do not impede muscle growth but enhance recovery, allowing for more vigorous training in subsequent sessions, sooner than you would do if your muscles were still sore and recovering.

In conclusion, ice baths offer a multitude of benefits for both physical and mental well-being. By understanding the concept, science, and key advantages of ice baths, individuals can incorporate this practice into their routines safely and effectively.

Remember to always prioritize your well-being, listen to your body, and consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions, and don’t forget, always Ice Tub with a mate. It’s more fun, you can create some competition around it and it beats sitting in front of the fire on a cold night – maybe!


  • 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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