If you’re on Instagram, TikTok, or really any kind of social media then you have probably seen all of the recent hype around ice baths. More and more videos are surfacing of people bracing themselves and taking the plunge. For many, just the thought of being in freezing cold water is enough to send shivers up their spine. So why are so many people putting themselves in such an uncomfortable state? Do the health benefits outweigh the discomfort of it all? We’re going to fill you in on it all in this article!
When did people start taking ice baths?
While ice bathing might seem like a newer trend, it is something that has much more history than you may think. A variety of cultures have dabbled in their own version of cold therapy for thousands of years for a variety of different reasons and potential benefits.
Ancient Greeks and Romans were said to experiment with the healing benefits of water. The term “thermalism,” which is the use of hot water springs got the Greeks interested in utilizing water at various temperatures to ease muscle fatigue and other ailments.
Flash forward to modern day, we now have people like Wim Hof (who is also known as the IceMan) breaking numbers of records for cold exposure. He is one of the many advocates of cold therapy and the copious benefits it provides.
With the technology we have available at our fingertips to see what people are up to, more and more are observing others taking the plunge, and deciding to do it themselves, all in the name of health and wellness!
What are the benefits of ice baths?
There’s something to be said about the numerous benefits both mentally and physically that people feel from taking a cold plunge, because why else would they do it?!
Here are just some of the many reasons people choose to submerge themselves in ice cold water.
- May relieve muscle soreness: You’ve probably heard that some athletes utilize ice baths after an intense game or training session – and for a good reason. Submerging the body in an ice cold bath has the ability to reduce muscle aches, swelling, and lactic acid buildup. Our blood vessels also constrict in cold water, which leads to less swelling.
- May improve your mood: You may have heard about cortisol before, it’s a stress hormone that can end up causing anxiety, depression, and intestinal issues when levels become too high. One of the big benefits of taking ice baths is that it has been shown to decrease cortisol resulting in a more relaxed state and better mood overall.
- May improve your sleep: Did you know that melatonin is a hormone our body produces in response to darkness and is responsible for helping us snooze? Well, ice baths can cause melatonin levels to spike which in turn can make you more sleepy. Ice baths also lower your body’s temperature which helps to induce sleep.
- May boost the immune system: There is some research that is beginning to show that cold water exposure can have an impact on strengthening the immune system. Ice bathing can also assist with lymphatic drainage which helps to remove toxins from the body!
- Support the nervous system: Research shows that cold water exposure benefits the central nervous system. This not only shows promise for a number of neurological disorders, but also anyone who is looking to stimulate the vagus nerve resulting in resting and digesting a little easier.
How to get started?
So if this all sounds great to you and you’re looking to dive in (no pun intended) then these are some of the ways you can get started with cold exposure!
- Start with cold showers: Cold showers can be the gateway to an actual ice plunge. Even though cold showers can be tough themselves, you have a lot more control over the temperature, how submerged your body is, and the length of time. We recommend trying a quick cold shower in the morning for an excellent energy boost!
- Practice deep breathing: One thing you’ll need to do to prepare for before an ice bath is practicing deep breathing. It is said that our breath is the anchor and stabilizer to keeping us calm and centred. At first you’re going to want to scream and might hate every moment of being in an ice bath. But if you can really hone in on your deep breathing, you’ll find the experience is one you can really enjoy. Powerful inhales through your nose and steady exhales through your mouth can make a really big difference.
- Experiment with temperatures: The recommended temperature for an ice bath is between 30 and 60 degrees farenheight. If it’s your first time you’re probably better off starting with a temperature on the higher end and working your way down to lower temperatures in the future. The more you do this the more you will see just how strong and capable you really are!
- Don’t force yourself to stay in cold water longer than you’re ready for: The first couple of times you go for a plunge you may just want to jump out immediately, but if you can get yourself to even 1 or 2 full minutes fully submerged then that is a huge success! Overtime you will be able to stay in the bath for longer and longer.
- Have a support group: Things are always easier and more fun when you have support, accountability, and people cheering you on! One great way to start practicing ice bathing is to start with family, friends, or a partner’s support. It’s a great way to challenge each other and participate in something that you know is benefitting your health and wellness!
All in all, deciding to take a cold plunge is a personal choice, and not an easy one at first. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, the benefits have the potential to seriously impact the quality of your life! We’re really curious to hear from you guys, is ice bathing something you have tried or would like to try? Leave us a comment and let us know your experience!