Are Ice Baths Actually Any Good?

Are Ice Baths Actually Any Good?

Picture this..
You've just finished an intense workout, beads of sweat dripping down your face. Now, as you scroll through your post-exercise IG & TikTok session, you stumble upon people plunging themselves into freezing ice cold water in their garden. But before you follow the trend headfirst into the icy abyss, let's explore the science behind why everyone and their dog is doing it.. and if it actually works.

The Cold, Hard Facts
Ice baths, sometimes also known as cold water therapy or even cryotherapy, involve immersing yourself in cold water, typically around 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-59 degrees Fahrenheit), for a short duration, usually 3-10 minutes. Proponents of ice baths claim a plethora of benefits, including reduced muscle soreness, faster recovery, more energy, better sleep, reduced stress and improved athletic performance.

Muscle Marvels
The science behind the muscle-soothing magic lies in vasoconstriction, which is a fancy word for the narrowing of blood vessels. When exposed to cold water, blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow and inflammation. This, in turn, helps in alleviating muscle soreness and swelling post-exercise. Then, when you step out of the cold, your body rapidly heats up and your blood vessels open up. This allows for increased blood flow with nutrients to target the muscles and help them recover quicker.

Inflammation Intervention
Ice baths can be your superhero against inflammation. The cold temperature is like a firefighter for your body, suppressing the flames of inflammation by reducing the activity of inflammatory molecules. It's the icy rescue your body needs after a fiery workout.

The Hormonal Symphony
Cold exposure also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood enhancers. So, while you may be shivering in the chilly water, your mood might just get a warm boost. This pretty much means that your dopamine (happy hormone) rises by up to about 250%, leaving you feeling calmer and a bit more buzzing around the rest of your day.

Performance Powers
If you're an athlete aiming for peak performance, ice baths might be your secret weapon. They have been shown to enhance recovery, allowing athletes to train harder and more frequently. You’ve probably heard your favourite athlete talking about this on social media about how it helps them recovery, and they’re absolutely right. Now you might not be a professional athlete, but surely having fresher legs is better than waddling into the office after leg day..
So, that sub-zero plunge might just be the cool catalyst for assisting your fitness goals.

Weight Loss Wonder?
Another claimed benefit of ice baths are it’s weight loss wonders. There is truth in this concept, however take it with a pinch of salt. Cold water therapy can actually help increase the bodys metabolic rate, which means you can burn more calories at rest. So, if you’re looking to ramp up your fat-loss efforts, ice baths can be a cool companion along the way. Just remember that it can’t replace a good diet and exercise regime!

The Ice Bath Wrap-Up
In the grand scheme of things, ice baths can be a beneficial addition to your post-workout routine. They may not be everyone's cup of (ice) tea, but the science suggests they could give your muscles and head a much-needed chill pill. Just remember, moderation is key – too much of a good thing can lead to frosty consequences. So, next time you contemplate that icy dip, embrace the cold with caution and let the science-backed benefits guide you to a frostier, fitter you. 

Looking to take the plunge? You can start by grabbing your very own KAL Pod here

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