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How to Take an Ice Bath – Ready, Set, Cold Therapy Begin

What sounds better than submerging yourself in an ice bath?

We know how you feel if the record just scratched, but hear us out on this one.

Cold water immersion can promote muscle recovery and leave you feeling rejuvenated. You’ve seen it in the locker rooms for elite athletes.

Maybe it’s time you found out more about taking ice baths and how they might benefit your body. Good thing you’re reading this article, right?

How Do Ice Baths Help Your Body?

It helps if you think of an ice bath like a regular bath, but just in cold water.

See? Don’t you feel better about it now? All joking aside, let’s talk about what cold therapy can do for your body. 

When you submerge yourself in cold water or apply ice to a particular area of your body, it causes the blood vessels to constrict. That helps bring the inflammation down, which carries pain relief to that area.

Of course, the cold water of ice baths brings about a numbing effect so that you gain immediate pain relief too.

Once you leave the ice bath and your body begins to warm up, your blood vessels open, and circulation increases throughout the body.

The theory behind this is that your muscles will then be more relaxed and bring about a speedy recovery from specific injuries.

In addition to relief from muscle soreness, ice baths have many other benefits.

Stress relief, better sleep, and an excellent post-workout cooldown are just a few more benefits in addition to reduced inflammation and increased blood flow after escaping the cold water. 

Taking Ice Baths

Now that we have discussed some benefits of cold water immersion let’s get those post-workout ice baths started. To start, fill a tub halfway with cold water.

Once it’s filled, add ice to the water. It’s best to have a ratio of about three parts water to one part ice to achieve the correct level of cold.

If you have a thermometer, you’ll want to get the water anywhere between 48 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If it’s your first time attempting an ice bath, it’s best to start at a higher temperature. Get your body used to the ice bath before going too low in temperature.

It’s time to get in the ice bath.

Now, if you’re one of those people who likes to edge your way into a cold pool, we vigorously recommend not doing that here. The quicker you get in, your body will begin to adjust to the water.

It will be cold either way, so why delay the inevitable, right? Make sure that you have a timer set for no longer than 15 minutes. Any longer can cause issues.

Shorter periods are acceptable, but 15 minutes is the optimal time to gain the benefits.

Yes, ice bathing is challenging, so try meditation while submerged or practicing deep breathing.

Focusing on something other than the cold water temperature will help you stay in the water long enough to achieve the desired results.

When you’re ready to exit your cold bath, it’s best to do it slowly. Unlike entering the ice bath, your blood vessels have been constricted, and your body is numb.

By going slow, you allow yourself time to test out muscle movement and carefully escape that cold plunge. Grab a towel and dry off, and put on some warm clothes.

Maybe even have a warm beverage ready to drink. That will increase your circulation and get that blood flowing.

Some people opt to take a warm shower after an ice bath. While that’s fine to do, ensure that you have dried your body and are no longer freezing before entering the shower.

Is Cold Water Immersion Safe?

They are, but specific considerations need to be taken into account.

If you have any medical condition, it’s best to check with your doctor before attempting ice baths. If you are nervous about ice baths, check with your doctor either way.

For those ready to go for it, take all of the considerations into account when doing your ice bathing. Never stay in the water longer than 15 minutes.

If you are new to ice baths, it’s best to work up to fifteen minutes. That might be too long for you at first. Start with five minutes and then progress from there. Always ensure that the water is not too cold.

Remember, the recommended temperature should be between 48 degrees and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder could risk things like hypothermia, intense discomfort, or decreased muscle recovery.

If the water is at the desired temperature and feels too uncomfortable, placing your hands under your armpits or knees can help.

Ice baths are excellent for athletes after an intense workout or game.

They are great for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or other intense training like running, dancing, or biking.

An ice bath might bring you some relief if you are stressed, especially since meditating and deep breathing are a part of it. 

Ice Bathing Complete

There’s a chance that you are now cold and need to put on a sweater.

Writing about ice baths made us cold too.

If you have been taking a cold shower after a workout, maybe it’s time to transition to an ice bath where you can center yourself and get the cold therapy treatment your muscles need for recovery.

It might take some getting used to, but we promise that your body will thank you.

Cold water therapy is great for muscle soreness after a training session and might be what you need to add to your workout routine.

Try it out and reap the benefits!

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Kristen holds a bachelors in English from Louisianna university. With a longstanding passion for fitness, she owns and operate her own gym and is a certified jazzercise instructor.

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