Do Ice Baths Aid In Recovery? 


Have you been exposed to ice bath therapy on social media or television? It’s a popular trend right now which involves plunging into an icy bath and staying submerged for an extended period to lower the body’s temperature. The practice advertises several benefits for general wellbeing as well as specific conditions. However, some may question how legitimate the practice is given its relatively recent emergence. In the blog post below we answer the question, ‘how does an ice bath work?’, discuss the effects of an ice bath and the extent to which an icy plunge can aid performance and recovery from sports injuries and other conditions. 

How Does An Ice Bath Work? 

A one-to-three-minute plunge in icy water is enough time for the effects of an ice bath to manifest. Two to three rounds is recommended to stretch the body to its limits and maximise the purported benefits of an ice bath. Exceeding ten to fifteen minute plunges is unwise as it can result in hypothermia and shivering following escape from the ice bath. 

What Are The Effects of Ice Baths? 

Eases Muscle Pain 

Ice baths have been repeatedly reported to ease muscular pain resulting from working out, playing sports or engaging in cardiovascular exercise. By cooling down the body, an ice bath causes blood vessels to contract, reducing the blood flow to areas where tissues are strained or damaged from the activities listed above. This means there is less stimulation of these tissues and less pain is felt. 

Improves Circulation 

As mentioned, when you take the plunge into an icy bath your blood vessels contract. This causes blood to rush towards vital organs. The recoil of this effect can improve circulation after the ice bath which may reduce the likelihood of a cardiac arrest or development of blood clots elsewhere in the body. 

Improves Recovery Time 

If you need to be physically fit before an event or game the next day, an ice bath can help prepare your body by reducing soreness and inflammation. This can give you the edge you need to perform at your best when important. 

Strengthens The Immune System 

Ice baths can be a great way to support our immune system. Cold water therapy can stimulate the production of our white blood cells, which we know is our defense mechanism against unwanted diseases and viruses. 

Improves The Mood 

In a very similar way to exercising, ice baths release endorphins which help us feel good. The rush of cold water also triggers a fight or flight response and the increased energy required to control one’s breathing during this panic develops our mental strength and resilience. 

Contact Erko Physio 

With over 10 years of experience treating patients, Erko Physio are the local experts when it comes to treating sports and exercise injuries. Our Alexandria physiotherapy is easily accessible from Erskineville, Newtown and Marrickville too. If you need a physiotherapist in Alexandria, Newtown or Marrickville, trust the experts at Erko Physio to help you plan your workout with due care and attention to detail.