Ice baths. Sounds horrible. If you’re like me (and a lot of other people) the idea of running into freezing water doesn’t exactly excite you. How did these things even get popular? It turns out there’s some pretty impressive benefits, and after trying them myself I have to say I’m a firm believer. If you’re having trouble sleeping, have sore muscles, get restless, have a hard time staying focused, struggling with inflammation or just want to try something new – read on.
I was a HUGE water kid when I was younger, loved being in the bath, ocean, pool..any body of water really. I found I still enjoyed baths as an adult and had heard of ice baths but never tried them.
Having moved from Australia (hot climate) to Vancouver (not as hot all the time climate) I was noticing it was really annoying being cold all the time. I hate not knowing what to wear and being a victim to the weather. I learned about Wim Hof through different podcasts and started one of the things he recommended, turning the shower on cold at the end of my shower. He said to build your way up which is what I did. Starting with 10 seconds, then 20, now I have a cold shower for minimum 1 minute every morning. Benefits I noticed were a sense of alertness, enhanced muscle recovery, and an improved mood. More than anything, it just felt nice afterwards. Even in the beginning when it was the longest 10 seconds of my life, afterwards it was like this inner harmony came through and feeling my body warm up as I continued on with my morning was refreshing. Now I find I actually don’t want the water near as hot as I used to have it and look forward to the cold. Who knew.
Since the cold showers were going well, on one day when I was experiencing a lot of muscle soreness I looked up ice baths & benefits. One video that got me especially fired up was this one by Melanie Proctor, talking about keeping the body running at a great energy level.
The first time I tried it, I had to get in and out of the bath about 5 times in 10 minutes. I still felt good afterwards, and slept AMAZING. I mean amazing. The 2nd time, I could stay in about 2 minutes at a time and I’ve been improving steadily since.
Here’s 5 reasons why you should consider trying ice baths:
This was a benefit I did not expect from this. I have had ice baths for 2 nights in a row now and have had the best sleeps of my life. Seriously, easy fall asleep, I stay asleep all night and wake up refreshed & rested.
If you’re feeling down
It helps alleviate depression in a fairly short amount of time. It does this by activating the sympathetic nervous system, sending blood to the brain and core, and reducing systemic inflammation, which is strongly linked to depression.
The only reason I had heard of ice baths before is because of it’s benefits of recovery for sore muscles. The general theory behind this is that the exposure to cold helps to combat the microtrauma (small tears) in muscle fibres and in result soreness caused by intense or repetitive exercise. The cold is shown to constrict blood vessels, flush waste products and reduce swelling, lactic acid and tissue breakdown.
Peace of mind
It improves emotional resilience. If you can build the habit of getting into a meditative state while laying in ice cold water, this mental awareness will stay with you for the rest of the day. You’ll be more calm, collected and poised.
Ice baths constricts blood vessels, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. Ice baths don’t only help inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles as well.
Honestly try it just once. If you hate it, you never have to do it again. However if you love it, it’ll change your life.