The term ice baths conjures up images of needless submersion in cold water but ice baths have more benefits than one might imagine. If you’re an avid weight lifter, athlete or you’re recovering from an injury, then ice baths are a great remedy to help you reduce pain and soreness, prevent injury and heal faster.
What is an Ice Bath?
An ice bath is just what its name indicates, although, when a person is given an ice bath, their whole body is typically not submerged. More often than not, an ice bath involves a specific body part being submerged in cold water; however, your whole body may be underwater if the pain involves a larger area. Typically, they’re recommended by trainers and doctors to treat an injury. One of the main reasons for receiving an ice bath would be because it helps your muscles tremendously in the healing process by reducing swelling.
4 Reasons to Use an Ice Bath
- Reduce Pain: Athletes, avid exercisers and everyday people can benefit from ice baths. Soreness is always a major issue for people who are trying to get into shape or recover after a hard workout.Submersion in the ice cold water has a positive impact on pain levels. In fact, professional athletes can often be found taking post-game ice baths.
- Prevent Injury: Another clear advantage is that ice baths prevent injuries. As you work out or perform strenuous activities, your body can suffer enormous wear and tear. Some experts recommend taking an ice bath post-workout to help prevent future injuries. The cold bath increases your blood flow and it is this increased circulation that helps body tissues recover faster, preventing injury.
- Speed Healing: It is also highly recommended to take frequent ice baths as you are healing from an injury. Long-term muscle damage is always a serious concern for the amateur and professional alike.
- To Reduce Swelling: The abrupt coldness of the ice bath helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Frequent ice baths are even more effective because your body is getting frequent cold water therapy. Ice baths may be just one part of your recovery process in an injury, but they can be a very important part.
History of Ice Baths
Believe it or not, ice baths are not new to society. Louis Sugarman brought the concept to America from his native Russia in the 1880’s. The infamous Coney Island Polar Bear Club was formed in 1902, much to the concern and confusion of casual observers. The fact is that early participants were mostly going off poorly researched facts and information. They knew it worked. They knew that throughout the history of sports, athletes took ice baths to help heal injuries. In fact, there have been reports of people more than 150 years ago taking dips in ice cold water to try and get the same benefits from ice baths that people do today. Thankfully, the research is much more concise and scientific today. Modern athletes know precisely what temperature the water should be and how long to stay submerged.
Not Just for Athletes
Some people have the misunderstanding that ice baths are just for athletes and this is not true. Almost anyone can benefit from an ice bath, for the right reasons. Teens and older children who are active in sports, band or other physical activities can benefit from ice baths if they’ve experienced a tough workout or long practices. Often, teens and college students spend long days going to school, working and living stressful lives; ice baths can help relax their muscles and take away the soreness.
Runners, weightlifters and weekend warriors are often found using ice baths to help reduce the soreness and inflammation. The more you use a sore muscle without treating it, the worse you’re likely to feel down the road. That’s why many athletes, doctors and ice bath users agree that the benefits of these baths are so great.
A Summary of Why Ice Baths Make Sense
In a day and age where prescription medications abound, the idea of natural healing appeals to many people. Ice baths can reduce both your pain and swelling after an intense workout or long distance run. They are also frequently used to prevent injury as well as speed up the healing process for existing injuries. The cold therapy in an ice bath is scientifically proven to aid in the healing process, as uncomfortable as it may be. In fact, people all over the world are using ice baths as a form of cold therapy because it makes the most sense. From a bag of ice applied to sore knees after a run to a doctor-supervised soak in an ice bath, cold really can work wonders.