Written by Charlotte Campbell
Would An Ice Bath Help Your Workout?
Just the words ice bath make some people shiver. But, for others, they are an integral part of working out. Many top training facilities have designated ice bath zones. So should you be incorporating a chilly dip into your routine?
Ice baths help the recovery process. When you finish working out, your body pumps oxygen and detoxes. In particular, it flushes out compounds such as lactic acid which causes fatigue and soreness. Lactic acid is created when glucose is broken down in the body. The more intense the exercise, the more lactic acid is created. When you feel a burning sensation during exercise, that’s one of the factors you can thank.
Ice baths cause your blood vessels to tighten and thus help the body drain lactic acid. They also reduce swelling. Once you leave the bath, the blood vessels widen again and let through a stream of “fresh” blood. This blood is packed with oxygen, and so it can quickly set to work reinvigorating the muscles.
How Long Do You Need To Stay In An Ice Bath For?
Experts suggest a 10-20 minute stay in a chilly tub should do the trick. Don’t stay in for more than 20 minutes, it is not advisable to have the blood vessels tightened for so long.
As with post-workout protein shakes, you should use an ice bath within 20 minutes of your workout finishing for it to be effective.
Who Should Use Ice Baths?
People who do regular intense workouts will benefit from an ice bath. If you find yourself suffering from fatigue or sluggish muscles, taking the plunge after exercising could help. In particular, athletes who are doing intense training in the run up to a competition or match often find ice baths prevent them from losing momentum before their big event.
If you are a casual exerciser or do gentle workouts you are unlikely to feel the benefit of an ice bath.
Would An Ice Bath Replace My Protein Shake?
No. An ice bath aids the recovery process in terms of detoxing and oxygenating the muscles. Protein shakes give your muscles a surge of protein to help create lean muscle mass and healing the micro tears in muscle tissue. The two would certainly complement one another, however.
Considering An Ice Bath?
If you think you could benefit from an ice bath, you can always build up to the real deal to test its benefits. Try turning your shower to its coldest setting before you jump in. Or, massage your muscles with ice immediately after working out for 10-20 minutes.
When you’re ready to try a proper ice bath, half fill a bathtub with cold water. Then fill with ice (around 2-3 large bags from a supermarket should be fine). Don’t plunge your whole body in on the first attempt. Aim to get to the tops of your legs for your first go –so try it out after leg day to get the maximum benefit.
Over a few attempts, lower your body in more until you can handle it up to your neck. Do not submerge your head at any stage. Build up your time up to 20 minutes, and you’ll be at peak ice bath. Your muscles will thank you the day after!