Why people choose to freeze
Ice Baths? Brrrr. Sounds like a dream someone from the equator would have. While the rest of us would rather not freeze to death while bathing, a lot of people out there are adding ice baths to their regimen. Ice baths, a.k.a cold water immersion or cold therapy is taken after a period of intense exercise. Sounds cool right? (pun intended)
Athletes who need to train on a daily basis do some hardcore exercises, which leaves them in severe pain afterwards. To reduce that pain, they take ice baths for around ten minutes or less. When you get into an ice bath, the temperature tightens your blood vessels and makes your body go numb. When you get out, the blood takes away the waste products like lactic acid that build up in the body after exercise. This makes you feel fresher than ever!
The controversy that follows
Here’s the catch – although many athletes claim to feel refreshed after an ice bath and have reduced muscle pain, there isn’t much of scientific evidence to support it. Some studies say that a cold bath is just as beneficial as an ice bath!
One study presented at the 2014 American College of Sports Medicine had researchers who studied two groups of athletic people –
1. Took ice baths after each training session
2. Did a low-intensity warm-down on a cycle
Three months later, they found out that the group that took ice baths had gained less muscle than the other group. Dr.Gabe Mirkin said that ice baths are fine for people who don’t train regularly, but it is bad for competitive athletes!
So should we freeze or not?
If you’re not a competitive athlete, this activity is good for you. Hardcore athletes should fill their bath tub halfway with cold water and add three bags of ice. Only immerse your lower body the first few times, then if you get comfortable move slowly till your torso and neck are immersed as well. Don’t stay in the tub for more than 5-10 minutes. For the rest of us who only exercise sometimes and complain about the pain for days – admit it, you do too – should fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. Then place the cup on your skin where your muscles hurt and tear off the paper cup as the ice melts. Massage your body with this for 10 minutes. Don’t forget to keep a towel underneath!
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