Are Ice Bath Good For You? The Pros and Cons
Ice baths are often used by athletes to speed up recovery, or by bodybuilders to limit soreness after working out. But are they effective? And are there any health risks involved? In this guide, we’ll take a look at both the pros and cons of ice bath, and give you the information you need to decide whether these baths will work well with your lifestyle. We’ll also show you some better alternatives if you don’t think ice baths are right for you.
Are cold baths good for you?
As you read these words, your brain is using information from a variety of sources to come to a conclusion: should I take an ice bath or not? There are many factors that go into that decision, but one thing’s for sure—what we think about cold is far different than what science has discovered. In fact, while it may seem counterintuitive at first glance, cold baths can have several long-term benefits. We’ll dig deeper into those reasons later in our post; first let’s get some context. Cold baths might be something you know well or they could be something you haven’t heard of before.
Positive effects of an ice bath
Besides allowing you to relax, an ice bath can have positive effects on your health. Being immerse in cold water may actually speed up your recovery time. Ice baths lower your core body temperature, which in turn lowers metabolism (it takes more energy to raise a low-temperature body than a high-temperature one). This is why elite athletes often use ice baths after grueling workouts: It helps them recover faster by slowing down their metabolic rate for up to 24 hours following. That being said, research suggests that only people who exercise regularly benefit from ice baths—and even then it's minimal.
Negative effects of an ice bath
Like it or not, there are some negative effects of taking ice baths. First, they’re uncomfortable. Unlike with saunas or steam rooms, you can’t escape an ice bath. In fact, that’s sort of the point—but if you don’t want to be expose to intense cold for extend periods of time, an ice bath is not a good idea. It should also be note that while most studies have shown benefits from taking ice baths after exercising intensely (they lower core body temperature), people who take them regularly may actually experience long-term damage to their skin tissue.
Why do elite athletes use ice baths?
Athletes use ice baths to recover after physical activity. Because of their extreme exertion, athletes’ bodies tend to accumulate byproducts like lactic acid that need to be flush out; they can do so more quickly with an ice bath. Elite athletes also benefit from quicker recovery times between games or sessions, as well as from faster relief from soreness. Anyone who’s tried a post-workout ice bath knows that you don’t have time for longer than a couple minutes in an ice barrel, though (the pain is real). That means that professional athletes are investing in recovery methods that are decidedly uncomfortable for most people—which highlights an important consideration: People react differently to cold exposure.
Can everyone safely take an ice bath?
From anecdotal evidence, ice baths have long been thought to improve athletic performance by reducing inflammation. But not all athletes can take an ice bath. It is important to check with your doctor before undergoing any new fitness program that may be physically demanding. So do you want to know more about Ice Barrels?
Do they make a difference if taken regularly and on empty stomach?
There are plenty of anecdotal reports to suggest that ice baths—cold-water immersion taken before, during, or after an activity—boost recovery and performance. A recent study confirmed that athletes who underwent regular cold-water immersion while training showed reduced markers of muscle damage following a workout compared to a control group. However, other studies have found no benefits associated with taking ice baths regularly. If you’re going to jump in every time you work out. It's important to do so on an empty stomach (otherwise your body will burn stored fat for energy). Also avoid alcohol immediately after ice bathing because it can cause a dangerous spike in body temperature; for example, after taking an ice bath one evening. I had a nasty hangover despite not having consumed any alcohol that day!