The Benefits of Ice Baths & Cold Therapy...
I have been a long believer and practitioner in cold therapy / cryo-therapy. After a long workout your body needs repair. It begins to repair itself by utilizing the blood vessels that bring oxygen to your muscle tissue while removing the waste products from exercise, like lactic acid. Lactic acid build up causes soreness, fatigue and prohibits the muscle from functioning as they should. Ice baths don’t only suppress inflammation, but they also help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles,” says David Terry, M.D
Elite athletes have utilized ice baths for years, and with cryo-therapy chambers becoming more popular, more people are utilizing cold therapy for a variety of issues. From the treatment of injuries, to cryo facials for the anti-aging benefits, it’s becoming more mainstream. NFL players have long said that cold tubs add five years to the average career. I utilize cryo-therapy chambers when I have the time. They are quick, usually the maximum time in is three minutes. When I don’t have the time and can’t make to US Cryo-therapy or another chamber, I still rely on ice baths.
How does it work...
Ice baths/cryo-therapy will immediately reduce swelling while flushing lactic acid out of your body. When you sit in an ice bath the cold causes your blood vessels to constrict and decrease in metabolic activity. This helps reduce swelling and muscle tissue breakdown, and helps drain lactic acid from the muscles. When the bath is over your body begins to warm up causing a faster return of oxygenated blood to your muscles to aid in their recovery. This helps the body remove the byproducts of the muscle breakdown in a more efficient manner. Cold therapy shocks the body to shorten recovery times. Everyone who trains at any level, from professional athlete to the soccer mom at the local gym, are prone to injuries. Your body experiences trauma which causes the muscle fibers to break down, which leads to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or (DOMS). This is all very important to recovery but it simply makes you feel so much better. It rejuvenates your mind and body and you feel great after a session or cold tub.
How to do it...
For my cold tubs I grab three bags of ice from the store and fill my tub with cold water.
I also add Epsom Salt for soaking. I personally like the eucalyptus and spearmint for the aroma therapy aspect, It smells awesome. Ice baths are an ass kicker at first and will take time to get used to. I recommend getting in the cold water and then pouring in the bags of ice. You will have already endured the initial shock of the cold water. Try to stay in for at least ten minutes with the goal of extending to twenty minutes total. Don’t go over the twenty minutes though.
Your body will thank you and you will not experience the inflammation at the same degree that you would without the cold therapy. You will recover quicker which allows you to tackle your next workout with the intensity that it deserves. It will also reduce the zombie walk from sore ass legs suffering from "DOMS".
Try it out and let me know what you think. You can follow me at @cdgowen on Instagram and comment on the ice bath post.