Ice Baths: The Pros and Cons of the Extravagant Health Trend

Lately, stars and Influencers have been writing in social networks about taking ice water baths. Why this is necessary, we understand.

Immersion in an ice bath has been gaining in popularity lately, including among the celebrities. Cold therapy is a fad for Zac Efron, Lady Gaga, Julianne Hough and many professional athletes. However, not everything that stars promote is 100% effective, and the use of ice baths as a means of recovery is fraught with a fair amount of controversy. In fact, Gabe Mirkin, the physician who originally popularized the use of ice for exercise recovery in the 1970s, now retracts his original conclusions, saying that ice can stunt muscle growth. But maybe a cold bath has other health benefits? Let’s try to figure it out.

1 Instant Anesthesia.

Despite the obvious numbness that comes from putting ice on bare skin, it’s not the only way ice baths help prevent pain. Researchers believe that the perception of pain decreases as nerve conduction velocity slows down. In fact, the speed of nerve signals – including pain signals – slows down.

2 Reducing swelling.

General constriction of blood vessels as a reaction to cold can also lead to a decrease in local blood flow. Thus, the swelling-inducing extra blood flow that muscles can get after a particularly brutal workout is seriously slowed down.

3 Doping for upcoming workouts

Ice baths can help athletes train or perform at high intensity in the days ahead. The effects are especially strong within 24 hours of training, when both MBON (delayed onset muscle soreness) and SWH (rate of perceived exertion) are reduced. This helps the athlete to return to the previous intensity of exertion more quickly or to increase it painlessly after a short time.

4 Relaxation Assistance

Although no study directly links ice baths to reduced stress levels, anyone who has, for example, applied a cooling ointment to a rash or simply splashed cold water on their face in the morning knows the invigorating effect that contact with cold can have. Therefore, because of the immediate relief of pain, some people feel happier or more awake after an ice bath. In addition, extreme temperatures cause us to change our breathing rate so that it becomes deeper and more controlled, which also contributes to overcoming stress.

Alas, the benefits of ice baths can also be imaginary. At least, that’s what the U.S. National Library of Medicine study shows. Its summary reads as follows: “the benefits of cold water immersion after exercise are no greater than the placebo effect. However, if done incorrectly, diving can cause hypothermia and frostbite, doctors warn. In addition, since ice baths slow the heart rate, you definitely have to give them up if you have heart problems. The same applies to diabetics. In any case, you can’t do without consulting a doctor.

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