Ice baths may appear straightforward, but there’s more to this popular practice than meets the eye. Here are some dos and don’ts you should know before you take the plunge.
Do - Ease Into It
Just like any other physical challenge, don’t expect the world on your first attempt. Conquering frosty waters takes time, so start mild and gradually lower the temperature of future baths as your body adjusts.
To implement this progressive approach you need to maintain consistent and measurable water temperatures. Purpose-built chillers, such as those offered by iCoolSport, make this a cinch thanks to their easy set up and digital controls.
Don’t - Use Makeshift Equipment
You certainly get what you pay for when it comes to ice baths. Using makeshift equipment – like old chest freezers – might seem like an easy way to save a buck, but it can cost you in the long run.
Let’s face it, these appliances just weren’t made to store large volumes of frosty water. In fact, they’re a safety hazard when used for this purpose. Leaks or spills are inevitable, and any water that reaches their power supply poses a serious risk of electrocution for the bather.
Be sure to only use equipment that’s designed with safety in mind. iCoolSport baths utilise high-quality safety devices that instantly remove all electricity when even the tiniest leak is detected. After 20 years, and with more than a million users, no one has ever been injured by an iCool product.
Do - Breathe
It goes without saying that breathing is important. Even more so when practising cold immersion.
Many people find their first reflex upon entering chilly water is to hold their breath or take short, hyperventilation-style breaths. This is both a symptom and a cause of the body’s natural fight or flight response.
In order to overcome the cold you need to relax into it as much as possible. One of the best ways to do so is to control your breathing. Make a conscious effort to allow the breath to flow in and out in a steady rhythm. It may prove difficult at first, but mastering this will allow you to maximise the mental and physical effects of your ice baths.
You may also find it helpful to slow your breath a few minutes before taking the plunge. One popular method is the ‘6:6’ – six seconds of inhalation, followed by six seconds of exhalation.
Don’t - Stay in Too Long
It’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. Ice baths are a controlled stressor that challenges your body and mind, but staying in for too long can lead to some very uncontrolled results.
Hypothermia and other injuries are possible when bathers push the envelope, so remember to keep it brief. You can achieve all the benefits of cold immersion through 4 sessions per week, each lasting around 3-5 minutes. Of course, seasoned pros might need a little longer to yield the same benefits. Whatever the case, it’s not recommended that you exceed 10 minutes at a time.
Do - Stick With It
Ice baths can be tricky to maintain, particularly during the winter months. When motivation wanes and you feel like you’d prefer to skip the plunge, keep in mind that the myriad of cold immersion benefits often compound with consistency.
Designate a time for your cold baths and stick with it. It will eventually form a habit that you’ll look forward to.
Don’t - Heat Up Too Quickly
The Søeberg Principle states that to enhance the metabolic effects of the cold, you should force your body to reheat on its own. This is because shivering activates brown fat thermogenesis, thereby increasing energy expenditure.
If you want to take advantage of this mechanism try not to towel off, take a hot shower, or put on warm clothes immediately after an ice bath. This is decidedly difficult, so don’t fret too much if you can’t quite conquer this feat.
Do Purchase a High Quality Ice Bath With iCoolSport
iCoolsport offers a range of ice baths for varying needs. In fact, iCool invented modern ice baths and we are the largest global supplier. From the single-person IceOne bath to solutions big enough for clubs and sporting organisations, we cover all bases.
Our iCool Compact Chill is suitable for baths of up to 500L, and can maintain a constant water temperature of as little as five degrees. With easy to use one touch start and wifi remote controls, it takes the hassle out of regular ice baths, and allows you to increase your cold tolerance gradually and consistently.
For more information about ice baths, peruse our blog and explore our range online.