What are the benefits of ice baths?

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With more high profile athletes coming out in favour of ice baths, and theories suggesting that cold exposure can help repair minor muscle trauma, the practice is more popular than ever. Let’s look at the benefits that an ice bath can give.

How does it work?

Cold therapy is not a new concept, but the ability to treat a large area at once is relatively new. Rather than wasting time focusing on one particular small area with an ice pack, you are able to treat the entire area with the use of an ice bath. The exposure to cold is thought to constrict blood vessels which can help to reduce swelling and tissue damage. It can also remove waste products, such as excess lactic acid which can cause poor muscle function when it is left to build up after exercise. When your body warms back up afterwards, it is given the healing kick-start it needs.

How is it done?

If this is your first time using an ice bath, remember it is not a competition of who can withstand the coldest temperature. Each person has a different cold threshold, so what others can handle may be too much for you. The optimum temperature for rehabilitation is 54 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so if it is your first time using an ice bath, consider beginning with a slightly higher temperature. You can then bring the temperature down gradually without giving your body too much of a shock. Staying submerged for 6-8 minutes is the ideal timescale for a dip.
If you are looking to use ice baths as part of your routine, see it as just another activity to check off. Place it alongside watching soccer drill videos, such as those found here https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Soccer/drills.jsp, as a great way to wind down after a hard practice.

Who uses it?

Although tennis player, Andy Murray, is one of the more high profile athletes who swear by ice baths in his cool down, distance runner Mo Farah and many top footballers also use ice baths as part of their routine. However, the practice isn’t just limited to sport, with Pinterest president, Tim Kendall, also being a fan as part of his morning wake up.

Ice baths aren’t for everyone, so give it a try to see if it is beneficial to you.

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