The Science of Ice Baths and Hot Therapy: Contrast Therapy Benefits for Muscle Spasms

science of ice baths and hot therapy in muscle spasms

Muscle spasms or muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. 

Experts believe that common causes of muscle spasms, although idiopathic (unknown), are the possible causes of muscle cramps, leading to abnormalities in bodily processes responsible for the control of muscle contraction. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, overuse of muscles like high-intensity workouts, and electrolyte imbalances (depletion of salt and minerals) are all examples here. 

OrthoInfo, an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, supports these assertions – claiming that muscle cramps are most likely to arise when sweat drains your body’s fluids, salt, and minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc.). A deficiency of these nutrients may lead to muscle spasms. 

Furthermore, they indicate that muscle spasms can affect different groups of individuals. With that said, certain groups are more prone to experiencing them – infants, individuals over 65 years of age, athletes, and those engaged in extreme physical activities (can be heavy digging or shoveling, or high-intensity interval training) place in this group.

When muscle spasms strike, we often feel a sudden excruciating pain, usually lasting several seconds up to minutes. These can lead to discomfort and inconvenience – making it difficult to use or move the affected muscle. 

At Xtreme Ice Baths, we understand the underlying risk factors associated with muscle spasms. Our article will plunge into contrast therapy, one of the most common natural remedies for muscle spasms. We will plunge into the science of ice baths and hot therapy, exploring their potential benefits to muscle spasms. 

 

What is contrast therapy

Contrast therapy is a physical treatment that involves an alternate exposure of the body to hot temperatures first followed by cold ones. This process can be repeated several times, for as short as 30 seconds to a few minutes. However, exposure to extreme temperatures over a long period of time may cause swelling, so we advise you to work with the supervision of a healthcare before starting out this practice. 

 

Science of ice baths and hot therapy 

Several studies explain the science of ice baths and hot therapy, which is commonly called Contrast Therapy. Here are some of the research that tackles its potential benefits to muscle spasms:

A 2020 study was conducted to compare the effects of Contrast Bath Therapy, using Infrared and cryotherapy on blood flow and muscle tone. 

The study involved 20 individuals, who underwent alternating therapy between hot water (38-40 degrees Celcius) for 4 minutes and 1 minute for immersion in cold water (12-14 Degrees Celcius). 

When heat is applied to a certain area, it expands the blood vessels to enhance blood circulation – leading to a relaxation of muscles. On the other hand, exposure to a cold bath constricts the blood vessels, which can help reduce inflammation. 

The result suggests using either of the hot therapies mentioned above can enhance blood flow, helping contracted muscles to relax and potentially reducing muscle pain caused by spasms. This concept was also aligned with Joyner MJ and Casey’s study – involving a rapid opening and closing of blood vessels to help decrease muscle swelling and pain. 

Other research suggests that Contrast Therapy benefits may be more effective for muscle pain compared to simple resting. 

Any good alternative treatments must be accompanied by supervision or expert advice from a healthcare professional. While numerous studies provide the potential benefits of alternate use of hot and ice bath therapy, it is important to consult with your therapies for a safe and more effective treatment. 

 

How can we help? 

Xtreme Ice Baths offer the benefits of relaxation in your own comfort; our portable ice tubs don’t require any additional tools. Simply set up the tub, fill it with water, and immerse yourself in its soothing effect! We also include a portable steam sauna for a complete contrast therapy experience. 

Whether you want to experience the synergistic effect of both steam saunas and ice baths, or prefer to harness them separately, feel free to contact us today!

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