5 Benefits of Ice Bath Therapy

Ice baths are becoming very popular and the reason why is very simple… because it makes you feel good.

Here are 5 benefits of ice bath therapy recovered from expert feedback from thousands of iCool owners around the world:

athlete girl

1. It soothes sore muscles

After an intense training session it’s important to give your body an opportunity to recuperate (stretching, massage, compression garments, etc). For those athletes between events during a competition—it’s likely they’ll need to facilitate a more-rapid-than-usual recovery. Ice bath therapy is a way to speed up the process by mitigating inflammation and delayed-onset muscle pain.

Ice bath submersion helps repair damage associated with intense physical training. When you immerse yourself in ice cold water, your blood vessels constrict; when you get out, they dilate. This process helps flush away metabolic waste post-workout, especially in the lymph nodes, the clear fluid made up of white blood cells and fluid from your intestines.  Increasing your blood flow floods your cells with nutrients and oxygen to help your body recover faster. The local temperature of your body is also decreased, which helps limit inflammatory response and therefore recover faster. When we learn to embrace the power of ice cold water which the iCool units provide, we can extend the realms of recovery beyond what we thought possible.

2. It boosts your metabolism & immune system

It’s a no-brainer that a healthy diet combined with regular exercise helps yield results for your physique. But by also exposing your body to colder temperatures, you can alter the behaviour of your fat cells. The body contains two types of fat—unhealthy white fat and beneficial brown fat. Unlike the tissue in white fat cells, the tissue in brown fat cells converts energy into heat. This process called thermogenesis has been shown to help with metabolic function and the prevention of weight gain. Cold water immersions have been shown to trigger this process and therefore help to boost your immune system and maintain weight.

There is also ways to jolt your flu-fighting system to life without the need for vitamins and supplements. Ice bath submersion and alternative breathing techniques offer a demonstrated ability to trigger an adaptation response to the immune system. It’s what’s called ‘controlled hypoxia’—and it works by activating the stress hormone adrenaline. With an exposure to physiological stressors, ice bath therapy challenges the body to function beyond its comfort zone, hence its direct effect on immune function.

athlete girl

3. It trains you to stressful situations

Cold water immersion (CWI) can trigger a floodgate of mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain by awaking a natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This response to ‘environmental stress’ works by conditioning the brain to cope better with the stressors of everyday life. It also decreases the production of inflammatory cytokines which are linked to anxiety and depression. After the initial temperature shock, our bodies are able to calm down and become more resilient to changes in our environment.

“From a mental standpoint, you’re challenging your body by being exposed to different stresses and stimuli, which makes you more resilient and prepares you for different challenges in the future,” says Nick Clayton, C.S.C.S., program manager for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

“The vagus nerve is linked with the parasympathetic nervous system, and training it can help you face stressful situations more adequately,” explains specialist Aurimas Juodka, CSCS, CPT.

4. It helps you sleep better

Based on studies that advocated CWI therapy, regulation of cortisol levels was shown to improve symptoms of depression and reduce the instance of sleep-related disorders.

Ice bath can also help your central nervous system by aiding in sleep, and consequently, making you feel better from having less fatigue. It’s not uncommon to hear “I slept like a baby that night” after cold water immersion. It makes you enjoy a good night’s sleep thanks to the body natural tranquilliser – the nervous system.

It’s especially important for athletes to ensure they’re getting the appropriate quality and quantity of sleep for optimal performance. The reason the iCool water therapy set up holds promise as a technique for better sleep is because rest habits are triggered and regulated by the brain and the nervous system.

Ice baths have a positive effect on the central nervous system, which helps you sleep and feel better. This, in turn, may improve your reaction time and explosiveness in future workouts.

More than 80% of athletes taking ice baths report improved mental state and far better sleep patterns.

5. It may help you improve sports performance

With the pre-cooling method, immersing yourself in cold water before working out on a hot and humid day may improve your performance.

“If you’re doing a cross-country race in Florida, icing before your race has been shown to reduce the effects of heat and humidity and improve your performance,” says Clayton.

“An ice bath prior to a long race in conditions where there is an increase in temperature or humidity can lower core body temperature a few degrees which can lead to improved performance,” explains Gardner.

By hoping in an ice tub just before a race or game, you will drop your core body temperature by a couple of degrees and it might give you the extra performance you need to win!


Men’s Health