An ice bath is simply a tub of cold water, with added ice. It’s often used in the culinary world to cool food quickly, especially when blanching or par boiling ingredients. It’s also used as a recovery technique for athletes to reduce swelling, aid in the removal of lactic acid and promote a faster recovery from exercise.
Soaking in an ice bath is not pleasant at first – in fact, it can be downright painful – but it will eventually improve with relaxing, focusing on your breathing and maybe even some distraction. The cold environment causes your blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow to the affected muscles and tissues, which in turn decreases inflammation and promotes healing.
Cold as Ice: Exploring the Science Behind Ice Baths
Another benefit of ice baths is that it activates and produce brown fat cells (the good type), which burn calories more effectively than white fat cells (the bad type). These are the types of fat that help us burn calories, while maintaining our muscle mass.
Lastly, taking an ice bath can help boost your immunity for clearer skin. This is due to a biological phenomenon called “hormesis,” in which a low dose of an environmental factor has beneficial effects on health, such as increased immune function.
When preparing for an ice bath, make sure the tub you’re using is large enough to submerge yourself fully, then add cold water and some ice until it feels comfortable. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and get out once you start to shake or shiver.