From elite competitors to amateur enthusiasts, ice baths are the worst-kept secret of the world’s top athletes. They enhance physical recovery and mental wellbeing regardless of the user, but some sports see more benefit from cold plunges than others. So, which activities are most suited to the practice?
Whether you call it soccer or football, you have to be fit to excel in the ‘beautiful game’. The average player runs around 11 kilometres per match, and when you couple that with intense training and tackling, it can be quite taxing on the body.
Regular ice baths are perfect for footballers because they demonstrably reduce recovery times and ease muscle soreness. With most players having to perform weekly, rapid recovery can mean the difference between securing much needed competition points or leaving the pitch wanting.
Athletes at the 2022 FIFA World Cup certainly found them useful, taking to the 150 ice baths supplied by iCoolsport to escape the sweltering Qatari heat and prepare for their upcoming matches.
World Rugby is one of many sporting bodies to encourage the use of ice baths amongst its athletes. Inflammation and muscle damage is inevitable in all forms of this hard-hitting contact sport, but cold immersion helps curb them as much as possible.
In addition to these performance-enhancing properties, ice baths can be a great group bonding tool. Having the roster brave the cold together in a team-sized pool is a guaranteed way to foster a shared sense of achievement, unity, and fun.
Running and Cycling
Ice baths are particularly effective at improving performance in track and endurance athletes due to a number of factors.
Firstly, they help reduce swelling of the lower limbs. Most would be familiar with the pain-relieving effect of applying ice to a swollen ankle, well, the same principle applies here. Ice baths constrict the blood vessels, flushing out lactic acid and preventing unwanted delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This can prove vital when competing in multi-day running or cycling events.
Secondly, they may benefit the cardiovascular system by improving circulation and stimulating metabolism. Maintaining cardiac health is key to delivering oxygen to muscles effectively during exercise, as is quickly converting food to usable energy.
Lastly, they encourage conscious breathing. Breathwork is a core pillar of the increasingly popular Wim Hof Method of cold immersion because it improves your ability to stay comfortable in frosty environments. This translates directly to running, where breathwork informs your technique, your susceptibility to stitches, and ultimately how you perform.
Few sports leave you as battered and bruised as boxing and MMA. While immersing your head in cold water is not recommended, ice baths can certainly help alleviate some of the bodily aches and pains that come with hours in the ring or on the mat.
Physical recovery aside, cold immersion can be particularly valuable in combat sports for its mental benefits.
It’s hard to think of a scenario quite as stressful as stepping into the ring and facing bouts of controlled chaos with only yourself to rely upon. Ice baths help you remain calm amongst the storm by promoting mindfulness, focus and relaxation. Dedicated practitioners often find themselves achieving a meditative state when undertaking a cold plunge, and through a cascade of biological processes, feeling more alert and inspired well after stepping out of the cold. For sportspeople reliant on quick reflexes and clear thinking, these qualities are highly prized.
Elevate Your Game with iCoolSport
The sports listed here represent just a fraction of those that benefit from ice baths. In fact, just about everyone has something to gain by incorporating them into their routine.
iCoolsport offers a range of ice baths for varying needs. iCool invented modern ice baths and we are the largest global supplier. From the single-person IceOne bath to solutions big enough for the whole family, 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.