Have you heard about cold water therapy but not sure what all the fuss is about? You’re not alone! Ice baths have had a resurgence the past few years, with the Wim Hof method taking ice water therapy to new heights - or depths... But you don’t have to be a world record breaker to enjoy ice bath health benefits.
Cold water therapy has been around long before The Iceman. Professional athletes have sworn by ice water to speed up recovery, due to its muscle healing and pain relieving benefits. Now us mere mortals can enjoy this all from the comfort of our own home. So what can we expect to benefit from ice therapy?
If you're on the hunt for a refreshing and revitalising addition to your wellness routine, that improves your psychological as well as physical health, an ice bath might be just what you need.
Our comprehensive guide will explore the advantages of ice baths for your body and mind, so you can unlock the myriad benefits of cold water therapy. Are you ready to take the plunge? Then let’s dive in.
Cold water therapy for physical health
Cold water immersion is not just about braving the icy depths; it's a tried and tested therapeutic treatment. When you step into chilly water, your nervous system springs into action, this can result in improved physical performance.
Lactic acid is more likely to move away from your muscles with ice water submersion. So say goodbye to muscle soreness, and hello to faster recovery, with a body ready for your next workout. Cold water stimulates blood flow, which can help towards better circulation, enhanced endurance, relaxed muscles, and greater resistance to fatigue.
If you suffer from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, recovery tubs could alleviate swelling and discomfort in joints and limbs. Icy water can constrict blood vessels, reduce inflammation and numb pain receptors, providing much needed relief to flare-ups.
Research has shown that exposure to 4°C water for just 30 minutes increases the number of T-cells, which play a vital role in fighting off viruses. You could be doing your immune system a solid favour with an ice barrel in your wellness arsenal. It can also help speed up your metabolism and boost your energy levels, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Please note: As with any therapy that involves extreme temperatures, it’s important to always consult your doctor before using an ice bath. This is especially important if you are pregnant or have any underlying medical concerns, particularly issues with your heart, circulatory system, blood pressure or diabetes. We also recommend that people with reduced mobility, sensory, and/or cognitive abilities only use ice baths if supervised. Small children are not advised to use ice baths. Also be aware of the risk of frostbite, cold water shock and hyperventilating. Sensible precautions are a must, your health should always be your top priority.
Just chill with ice water immersion for mental wellness
You might have experienced a euphoric high after cold water before, maybe due to a dip in the North Sea, or a freezing shower during a broken boiler! That feel-good sensation has a scientific explanation. Dipping into icy water isn't just about a quick jolt; it can play a lasting role in improving your psychological wellbeing.
Cold plunge can trigger a surge in serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine production, the neurotransmitters that are responsible for mood, focus and energy. A study revealed that a 20-30 second dip in near-freezing water can provide the same boost in norepinephrine as a 6 hour walk in 16°C weather - we know which we’d prefer!
Cold baths don’t just provide a fleeting sensation; ice water therapy can strengthen your mental resilience over time, promoting calmness, reducing anxiety, helping to manage depression and improving the quality of your sleep. Even splashing your face with cold water helps to calm an anxious mind.
If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, cold water therapy can help with that too. Ice immersion activates the parasympathetic system which calms the body. If you take a dip in your ice bathtub before bedtime, you’re more likely to experience a deeper night’s sleep, which is vital for your mental health.
On top of the physical sensations, ice bath sessions can help you to focus on the present moment and the world around us. Cold plunges are an effective addition to mindfulness practise and attention strengthening. After a stressful day at work, a chill tub is a welcome retreat for recharging, forgetting your worries, and concentrating on the here and now.
Please note: Ice baths are not a stand-alone cure for psychological problems, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you are having issues. What they do help with is forming part of a routine that can help to manage and alleviate stress and anxiety, as well as boosting your mood. Your mental health is just as important as your physical wellbeing.
How to take the plunge into your icy wellness routine
Nowadays there’s plenty of choice when looking for an at-home ice tub, from DIY recovery pods, to stand-up ice barrels and inflatable ice tubs. you can find a plunge pool to suit your budget.
We prefer the hassle-free convenience and comfort of an ice bath with a built-in chiller. Without having to worry about ice packs or maintaining temperature on hot summer days, you can enjoy clean, chilled water ready for your immersion, regardless of the weather conditions.
After consulting with your doctor and when you’re ready to start your cold water journey, begin cautiously with a temperature you're comfortable with, we usually find this is around 15c. If you’re a cold water newbie, immerse yourself for thirty seconds to learn what your limits are. We then recommend your initials sessions to last up to a maximum of five minutes, or whenever you start to shiver - whichever is first. Gradually work your way up to fifteen minute sessions over time. This will allow your body the time to adjust and reduce any risks. The health benefits of cold plunge start from half a minute, so there’s no need to push yourself.
To start with, keep the exposed parts of your body clothed, and make sure you have a towel, poncho or bathrobe to hand for when you get out. We find taking a few deep breaths, stretching or a light walk helps warm up our bodies after a dip - failing that, a cup of tea usually saves the day!
Frequently asked questions about ice baths
How long should I stay in my ice bath?
Start with 30 seconds to learn your limits. For your initial sessions, stay in for a maximum of 5 minutes, then work your way up to a 15 minute immersion over time, without pushing your body beyond its limits. Even just half a minute in an ice tub can provide benefits.
Should you fully submerge in an ice bath?
Yes, we recommend submerging up to your ears. Exposing your neck to the water helps to regulate your temperature quicker.
Is it good to take an ice bath after a workout?
Yes an ice bath is perfect for this, it helps to speed up muscle recovery, moves lactic acid, and alleviating soreness.
What should I do immediately after an ice bath?
Wrap yourself up in a towel, poncho or bathrobe. Take a few deep breaths to regular your nervous system. Grab yourself a hot drink and try to warm up with a few stretches or a gentle walk.
Who should avoid cold plunge?
Do not use an ice bath prior to consulting with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or have medical conditions concerning your heart, circulation, blood pressure or diabetes. We also recommend that people with reduced mobility, sensory, and/or cognitive abilities only use ice baths if supervised. Small children are not advised to use ice baths.
Do ice baths help you lose weight?
An ice bath won’t directly cause you to lose weight, however, it can boost your metabolism. It’s best to think of cold water therapy as part of a healthy routine, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, instead of a one-stop shop for weight loss.
And there you have it! Now you know the benefits of cold water therapy on the mind and body.
Ice baths offer a convenient and effective way to reap the benefits of cold water therapy. Whether you're looking to recover faster, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, improve focus, or get a better night’s sleep, ice tubs could help you on your journey to a healthier you.
Take the plunge and discover the transformative power of ice baths in the comfort of your own garden. Your body and mind will thank you!
If you’re interested in purchasing an ice bath, pop into our Leeds and Hull showrooms, we’re open 7 days a week. Not near one of our Yorkshire showrooms? No problem, you can book a video call with our showroom team.