A warm, steamy shower is unbeatable after a tough workout. It washes away your sweat, recalibrates your mind and allows you to enter a sense of relaxation and refreshment that’s hard to replicate.
But, what happens when you flip the switch on your post-workout routine and make the switch from steamy saunas and showers to an icy-cold immersion session? If Instagram #fitspo coverage is to be believed, everyone from Joe Wicks to international sports teams and CrossFit athletes to movie stars are dipping their toes into ice baths. But, crucially, should you? Let’s dive in.
Ice Baths Could Reduce Inflammation
Feeling tight and sore after a particularly tough session? An ice bath could help with that. This 2018 analysis examined the effectiveness of various post-workout treatments, including ice baths, massages and contrast water therapy. The study found that ice baths and massages were the most effective at lowering inflammation.
Ice Baths Could Reduce Stress
If you’re feeling the pinch from work or home-based stress, ice baths could offer a welcome change of pace to your wellness routine. Another 2018 study found that cold stimulation, specifically applied to the neck region, stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus is directly linked to your heart rate and thereby your response to stress. How’s that for chilling out?
Ice Baths Can Boost Circulation and Improve Your Immune System
For those looking to make gains in the health department, ice baths have another trick up their proverbial sleeve — as, when you submerge yourself in icy water, blood rushes to your vital organs, including your heart. While this can be replicated with a brisk walk, ice baths were also found to improve study subjects’ immune response to bacterial infection in this 2014 study