Ice Bath for Recovery | Xtreme Ice Baths
Feeling the physical rejuvenation that comes from an ice plunge is one thing – but explaining the detailed science of ice baths is another, maintaining its place in high-level sport as physical treatment for this exact reason.
Even though the most flashy and convincing benefits might come from these tiers of high-octane performance and sport, that’s not to say that an ice bath for recovery can’t be taken by anyone outside of these lanes! The evidence speaks for itself – with the right precautions and measures taken to keep your plunge under healthy conditions, the ice bath is capable of bringing a wealth of benefits to your body, both physical and mental.
The Science of Ice Baths - What Happens to Your Body?
Built under the premises of cold exposure therapy, voluntarily placing your body in a state of extreme discomfort serves as the basis of the mental focus ice bathing aims to bring.
Just as powering through a difficult workout, or pushing yourself over challenges functions as an exchange of will and resilience for satisfaction and clarity, your cold plunge makes a similar bid for mind over matter.
‘Top-Down Control’ is the scholarly concept dedicated to this phenomenon, and revolves around the exertion of explicit bodily control over impulsive behaviour and actions as a functional skill – in the broader mainstream, this is probably better recognised as your ability to grit your teeth, fortify yourself mentally, or the strengthening of your stress tolerance.
This is, of course, without even mentioning the other end of the equation. Your body eventually recognises that your cold stress is not a threat, and reduces its production of stress hormones that’re part of the fight-or-flight process – hormones like adrenaline or cortisol – that help you fight through the discomfort.
At this point, you’ve managed the stress and shock of the cold that’s hit your body like a ton of bricks – where does that leave you?
Dopamine and serotonin, better known as your ‘feel-good’ transmitters, are released as your body recognises the stress has been contained, focusing instead on bringing calm, balance and focus to your mindstate. As the cherry on top, the adrenaline stays in your system for you to continue feeling energised and motivated for the day’s tasks, making your dip a gift that keeps on giving beyond the initial pain and discomfort of the tub!
In the same way that we use bags of frozen peas and ice packs to reduce the pain of sore and swollen muscles, taking an ice bath has the potential to produce similar effects. The cold here serves to reduce the sensitivity and immediacy of mind-muscle connection via the slowing of nerve activity – it’s an explanation, in other words, as to why you feel slightly more numb to pain in the cold.
Blood vessels tend to contract as your body tries to keep its core organs warm – meaning that blood flow to your muscles is decreased, pointing to a possible reduction in swelling and inflammation. Post-bath, as your body temperature returns back to its sweet spot, blood flow is vigorously increased again to push oxygen back into the rest of your body, placing muscles under greater metabolic repair.
At the end of the day, the ice bath has taken the world by storm – with these benefits in mind, it’s hard not to see why!
Browse a portable ice bath for yourself, and get started on bringing this chill to your home!