/Ice bath

Ice bath

By Laurie Sweig

I’m seeing quite a few social media posts with people sitting in incredibly cold water. Sometimes it’s a bathtub full of ice, sometimes it’s a chest style freezer full of water or there are videos of some folks taking a plunge through a hole cut in the ice. Those are all on purpose. I figured this would be a good time to figure out why this is happening.

Ice baths are technically known as a cold water immersion (CWI) or cryotherapy. The potential benefits linked to taking an icy bath are:
• Eases sore and achy muscles
• Helps the central nervous system
• Limits the inflammatory response
• Decreases the effects of heat and humidity
• Trains the vagus nerve

The vagus nerve is linked with the parasympathetic nervous system (heart, lungs and digestive tract). Training it with extreme conditions can help manage stressful situations more effectively.
If this is an experience you must try, here are some tips for you:
• The temperature of the bath should be between 10 to 15 Celsius
• The time in the bath should not be more than 10 to 15 minutes
It’s recommended that the entire body is submersed but starting with feet and legs is best for first time users
For the greatest result it’s best to have an ice bath right after intense exercise.

There are risks when using this type of therapy. The decrease in the body’s core temperature when immersed in ice water constricts the flow of blood in the body. This is a dangerous activity for people with preexisting cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure and it should be avoided. Hypothermia is another risk if the time in the cold water lasts for too long.
This is not something I will be trying anytime soon. It’s certainly interesting but it’s not my idea of stress relief. Guess I’m not as hard core as I thought I was. 
Something to think about.

Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at laurie@thepointforfitness.com.