How To & Tips

5 Ways Ice Baths Can Help After Exercise

Ice baths have been a traditional way for athletes to reduce swelling and pain. But now, new research is suggesting they can help with recovery after a strenuous workout. When applied, ice baths biologically stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory proteins that limit muscle damage and pain.

Let’s take a look at five ways ice baths can help you after exercise. After reading, you may even want one of these Ice bath containers for your home.

1 Soothes Sore Muscles

The use of ice baths has increased in recent years. Ice baths are usually recommended for people who have undergone intense exercise routines or want to relax after the day’s work. They help soothe sore muscles and treat common sports injuries like pulled hamstrings, back pain, and shin splints.

When you expose your body to ice water, it causes your skin temperature to drop by several degrees. This triggers an increase in blood vessels near the surface of your skin which allows heat from other parts of your body to escape more quickly than usual. When this process is repeated regularly, it can also help you recover faster because the cold water constricts the circulation of blood vessels (making them narrower).

The cold water is refreshing; it triggers a response in the body that increases blood flow and slows down the heart rate. When combined with an adequate amount of fluids, it can help improve recovery time after workouts by reducing swelling and inflammation of the muscles.

ice barrel
Ice barrels can help improve recovery time after workouts by reducing swelling and inflammation of the muscles.

2 Boosts Metabolism & Immune System

The benefits of an ice bath are often argued about. One benefit people don’t often talk about is the increased metabolism and immune system boost you get a post-ice bath.

At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to jump into something so cold for the sake of boosting your metabolism. But actually, the cold temperatures put on your body will cause you to shiver, and the shivering will generate heat which boosts your metabolism temporarily because it forces blood away from the surface of the skin and into your muscles, where heat is generated. So if you want to increase what’s called resting metabolic rate (RMR), or just plain old “metabolism,” an ice bath is an excellent place to start.

Taking an ice bath can help strengthen our immune system because exposure to cold temperatures leads our

Taking an ice bath can help strengthen our immune system because exposure to cold temperatures increases our immune response by up to 50%. Immersion in cold water also improves the body’s white blood cells and natural killer cells.

ice barrel
Taking an ice bath can help strengthen our immune system because exposure to cold temperatures increases our immune response by up to 50%.

3 Trains you for Stressful Situations

Ice baths are an excellent way to help train you for stressful situations. The cold water causes your body’s stress hormones to surge, which is one of the reasons that people feel calm after they get out.

The ice bath forces your body into a natural state of hypothermia, which is where it begins to flush toxins from your cells and tissues. This can make you feel refreshed and alert afterward, without any of the downfalls of actual hypothermia (such as confusion).

4 You’ll Sleep Better

The purpose of an ice bath is to cool your body down, which promotes a higher production of growth hormones. Growth hormone stimulates the brain to release a chemical called melatonin, which helps your body make sleep hormones.

As we age, our bodies produce less and less melatonin on their own. The ice bath also triggers the sympathetic nervous system to promote better sleep by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Some athletes use an ice bath before bedtime to help them get a good night’s rest.

ice barrel
Some athletes use an ice bath before bedtime to help them get a good night’s rest.

5 Your Performance will Benefit

Ice baths may seem like a pretty brutal way to cope with aching muscles in the short term. But in the long term, research has shown that they can make a significant difference to your performance levels.

The most important thing to remember is the timing. You want to keep your ice bath as short as possible and no more than 10 minutes. Any longer, and you will only be delaying the process of getting out of bed and starting your day.

ice barrel
You want to keep your ice bath as short as possible and no more than 10 minutes.

The science behind ice baths is that they lower your body temperature when you get in, forcing you into a state of cold shock response. This then sends blood flow from less active parts of the body, such as the stomach and skin, back towards muscles to keep them warm and function properly.

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