Ice Baths, Guide to Cold Water Immersion

What is an Ice Bath?

An ice bath is also known as “cold water immersion”, and as the name says, you immerse yourself in very cold water for a certain period of time. The ideal immersion is to have the water level up to your chest level; however, you could dip in up to your waist level if you are starting out.

Benefits of Ice Baths

Performance enhancement

One of the major reasons cold water immersion/ice baths are popular among athletes is its performance enhancement capability.

Reduction in fatigue and soreness

Tavares et al. studied the effects of cold water immersion on elite rugby athletes as they underwent intense training spanning three weeks.

Enhanced wellness

There is no doubt that ice baths benefit individuals engaging in intense training and physical activities. Could combat athletes enjoy the same benefits?

What if I’m not an athlete?

You must be wondering that all these are more advantageous for athletes or fitness freaks and that there is hardly anything going for you here. Well, hang on! There are major health benefits for ordinary folks, whether you are pumping iron or simply getting by.

Justin Beiber taking an ice bath
Justin Beiber taking an ice bath. Posted on his Instagram

Lose weight

Another solid advantage of ice baths is that they can help you reduce weight. Unlike the fad diets that self-acclaimed diet gurus recommend and swear by, weight loss by using ice baths can be backed by scientific evidence.

Relieve pain

The famous music icon Lady Gaga has been using ice baths as a treatment for her fibromyalgia condition, which causes chronic pain and fatigue and also affects sleep. Ice baths can relieve pain by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

Fight depression

Ice baths have reportedly shown to increase the release of norepinephrine in the bloodstream. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that aids in increasing attention and cognitive ability, vigilance and overall better mood, and all these factors are essential in fighting depression.

Prevent neurodegenerative diseases

When a body is exposed to cold, most genes get shut down except genes that help in fat burning, and a group of proteins called the cold shock proteins. Instead of shutting down like the other genes, exposure to cold shows increasing in these two genes.

Sleep better

Sleep is one of the most overlooked natural healing mechanisms that nature has bestowed on every living organism. Sleep helps rest, relax and restore not only physical health but mental health as well. However, due to the modern, fast-paced lifestyle with constant exposure to bright lights and everyday stresses, people are losing sleep, and insomnia is rising.

Easing into ice baths

You have learned about the benefits, and now you can’t wait to start to embark on your healing journey. But then again, you still can’t get your head around to step into the ice-cold water. Think of all the benefits you get to enjoy afterwards and motivate yourself to take the first plunge.

Kam Ice Bath Instructor Thailand
Kam from Breath Inspired in Thailand. Daily Yoga and Ice Baths is part of her routine.

Ice Baths vs Cryotherapy

You have done your research, you have looked up Wim Hof, and just as you are gearing for your first ice bath, you see cryotherapy popping in “you may also like” recommendations.

Man in a cryotherapy chamber

A final word of caution

Needless to say, before engaging in ice baths or any new treatment therapy, it is a given that you consult with your doctor, get yourself thoroughly checked up and seek approval from the health experts.

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Ice Bath

Ice Bath

Ice Baths, Cold Plunge, Cryotherapy and Cold Exposure