Ice baths or cold therapy is a technique of sports therapy based on immersing oneself in cold water following an intense workout or period of exercise. Immersing oneself in a tub of ice water has gained a lot of popularity in the sports arena; however, the efficacy of this therapy remains questionable. There is no scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of ice baths to the body. In medical terms ice baths can be referred to a ‘cryotherapy’, which involves using low temperatures to satisfy medical therapies.
Here are various reports illustrating the effects of ice baths and how exactly it works in alleviation of sores and other athletic concerns, though these are all mostly speculative accounts. Some suggest that ice bath benefits lie in the fact that the body tends to at a faster pace, thanks to the cold provided by the ice water, following a period of exercise that is intense in nature, while others suggest that the ice bath benefits lie in its efficacy in tightening the blood vessels and letting the blood drain out of the legs, soothing the throbbing aches.
Some of the more speculative ice bath benefits include faster recovery, limber muscles, less muscle soreness, stiffness and pain, and inflammation reduction. However, there is a flipside to this means of therapy as well. Some of the disadvantages of ice baths are that it can be a painful process, and one that can potentially lead to frostbite and hypothermia if continued for a certain period of time. One of the biggest disadvantages of ice baths, rather a dangerous concern, is that for patients who suffer from heart diseases or asthma, it can be extremely harmful and prompt the condition.
Ice baths can be quite tricky and one should be educated on ice bath benefits and the potential disadvantages of ice baths. They should be administered with caution and care. Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts of ice baths:
Ice Bath Dos
Do Ease Into It
It is a safer option to not start off with a temperature that is too high so that the body has enough time and exposure to get well-acquainted with the therapy. It is suggested by experts to start off with a temperature between 55-50 degrees Fahrenheit initially, and then lower it down by each subsequent exposure.
Do Opt For Comfort
Another very important factor to consider with ice baths is your comfort zone. Make sure to adjust the temperature according to your needs. Do not go too low on the temperature if you are confronting apprehensions over the therapy. It is as suggested to invest in booties or toe warmers, as the toes happen to be the most sensitive part when submerged in ice cold water.
Do Shut Off Your Jets
If you have jets in your bath, it is preferable to keep them shut. The jets will end up pushing away the water that is already in your bath and has become warmer due to touch of skin. This may lead to overdoing the temperature beyond suggested levels.
Do Go To A Professional
Ice baths can be quite the hassle to draw up and can be very inconvenient too. To make things simpler, find a gym that offers ice baths and take a dip occasionally after intense periods of exercising.
Ice Bath Don’ts
Don’t Overexpose Yourself
A very important ‘ice bath don’t’ that should never escape your mind is overexposing yourself. The set temperatures for a typical ice bath are supposed to be around 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, for which ten minutes maximum should suffice.
Don’t Assume Colder Is Better
Never ever assume that the colder the bath is the more effective it is going to be. In fact a temperature higher than the one stated above and a time limit that exceeds that of a maximum of 8-10 minutes can be very dangerous.
Don’t Follow Suggested Temperatures Religiously
Even though the suggested temperature is said to be between 55-60 degrees F, you can go higher than that if it doesn’t suit your body. You do not have to follow this temperature religiously, however, do not go lower.
Don’t Take A Warm Bath Afterwards
Taking a warm shower immediately after an ice bath is a strict no. If you must warm yourself up, wear a sweatshirt or cover up with a blanket instead.