With my years of experience as a coach, I know how a lot of athletes tend to do different exercises and workouts that will help push them to new heights. Different athletes have different training regimen as well as methods to combat sustained injury post intense training session. One of the most debated sports therapy techniques right now is the ice bath therapy or cold-water immersion technique.
Ice baths or cold therapy is a sports training regimen in which a substantial part of the athlete’s body is immersed in an ice cold bath for a limited time or duration following an intense workout or period of exercise. Despite being controversial, this practice is becoming increasingly popular among many athletes in various sports.
Why do some Athletes Practice Ice Bath
The general theory behind the ice cold therapy is the belief that exposure to cold helps to combat the small tears in muscle fibers and resultant muscle soreness, which is caused by an intense workout or strenuous training, is thought to constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. Ice bath is also believed to help speed up the bodily recovery process, reduce stiffness and pain, relieve inflammation and muscle soreness.
Why Ice Bath is Controversial
Research into the health effects and the benefits of ice bath as part of an athletic training regimen is still inconclusive. Ice bath can be a painful and extremely dangerous process. It can potentially lead to frostbite and hypothermia or shock that may lead to death. The therapy is particularly dangerous for patients who are suffering from heart diseases or asthma.
Ice bath is rather a tricky therapy. This therapy should be exercised with proper care and caution – otherwise you will risk hurting yourself in the process. Here are some important things to consider before you decide to emerge into the ice tub.
Do not Overexpose
Avoid staying too long. 10-15minutes of ice bath may be beneficial more than that can be downright dangerous.
Do not Expose Yourself to Extreme Temperature
The most recommended temperature is 50-49 degrees Fahrenheit
Do not do Ice Bath before You Run
This may result to numbness or cause you to alter your gait which increases your risk for injury
Never Take a Warm Shower Afterwards
A warm shower immediately following an ice bath is strictly discouraged.
Enjoy a Warm Drink
Gradually bring your body temperature back to normal. Wrap your body in a blanket and enjoy sipping up a warm drink after the ice bath.
There are some athletes and coaches who swear by the effectiveness of the ice bath therapy. While its benefits may not be guaranteed yet, you can try to treat it like any part of your training program. I suggest you experiment with ice baths by trying it on seasons when you are not preparing for a main race or event and see how your body will respond. Bear in mind that timing and temperature is important. And, always remember – safety first.