Ice baths are becoming more and more popular as a means of recovery after an intense workout. Elite runners, rugby players, MMA fighters and many other athletes are using ice baths for faster recovery and injury prevention. Ice packs can be used to achieve the same objective but are less effective than ice baths. Ice baths are better at isolating the deeper tissue fibres and large muscle groups of the body. Ice bath's have many advantages for sports men and women who need to recover faster, in order to perform at their maximum during the next workout or contest.
The Potential Benefits
1. Speeds Up Recovery
An ice bath post workout speeds up recovery. Immersing yourself in cold water causes the blood vessels to tighten and the metabolic activity of the body to decrease. After stepping out of the water warm blood rushes through the vessels bringing fresh oxygen to your muscles and removing harmful waste products.
2. Flushes Out Waste Products
Heavy training causes the build up of many waste products in the body’s tissues. The most common of these is lactic acid which affects how well your muscles function during physical exercise. Cold water therapy flushes harmful metabolic debris from the body.
3. Reduces Swelling
The very low temperature helps treat soreness, muscle strain and inflammation. This is great for rugby players triathletes and MMA fighters in recovery from bumps and bruises sustained through gruelling training and games.
4. Builds Mental Toughness
The first time you have an ice bath is not a comfortable experience, I can assure you this from a number of personal experiences when playing profession rugby in France. Immersing yourself in freezing temperatures in not for the light hearted. After a while your body will become numb and and your mind and body become conditioned to the experience.
A number of professional sports men and women are reported to have ice baths and would stay in them for over an hour. There is no standard temperature that an ice bath should be set to, or how long you should stay in there. But a rough guideline is between 50-59 degrees fahrenheit and between 10-20 minutes per ice bath.