Are Ice Baths Worth the Hype?

Think ice baths and you think professional athletes, hardcore endeavours and recovery that’s just as punishing as the workout. And while you don’t have to have tried one yourself to see that they’re definitely something to be endured rather than enjoyed, are the benefits actually worth it? Although studies remain inconclusive on whether they can improve performance and recovery, here’s what we do know…

• Immersing yourself in ice-cold water decreases your body temperature which can help reduce post-workout inflammation and kick-start the tissue healing process.

• Ice-cold water can relieve burning aching muscles.

• By changing the way in which blood and other fluids flow through your body, ice baths can help to flush waste products, such as lactic acid, which can build up after an intense workout.

• According to specialists, ice baths stimulate the vagus nerve, which is linked to the parasympathetic system, and can over time, help your body learn to relax faster after stress.

• Immersing yourself in temperatures that are too cold, too quickly can shock the body and raise blood pressure and heart rate, which could be dangerous if you have a pre-existing heart condition. For that reason, always take it slowly, experiment and see how your body responds.