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Posted by Nicholas Crusie
USEFUL TIPS

Ice-Cold Bath Benefits: Everything You Need To Know

6 min read

Going out to a party or for a nice dinner with friends, family, or your partner on a Friday after a hard week at work is great. But there’s more than one way to blow off steam and unwind so that you can get your weekend off to a good start.

Our favorite might just be a long, hot soak in the bath. Picture it: lighting some candles, closing the door, maybe tossing in a luxurious bath bomb, and then sinking into the hot, steamy waters. A plunge into pure bliss. 

…So it may come as a surprise to learn that the one thing that may be even better for you than a hot relaxing bath is, in fact, an ice-cold bath. Doesn’t sound appealing? Just you wait — soon, bathing in ice-cold water is going to be your new favorite thing.

Why Would You Take an Ice-Cold Bath?

If this seems counter to everything you know about how to relax, you’re not alone. The idea of taking a cold shower, let alone a cold bath, can sound incredibly uncomfortable on the face of it. But, it’s actually an age-old practice that comes with a wide variety of health benefits. 

While you may have heard of healing ice baths for athletes, you don’t need to worry too much. We’re not talking about dunking yourself in a trough of ice. When we say “ice-cold bath,” we actually mean bathing in water that’s around 59°F (or 15°C).

So, what are the benefits of taking an ice-cold bath? 

Let’s start with the obvious: If you live in an area that has a brutal summer, it’s probably easier for you to see the appeal of bathing in cold water. Submerging yourself in cold temperatures can help your body cool down quickly.

If you wake up on a summer morning feeling sweaty and uncomfortable, consider an ice-cold bath to help cool down and get your day off to a refreshed and energized start.

Cold Water Immersion: Regular Routine

Another potential benefit to an ice-cold bath actually goes back to something we just mentioned — that idea of athletes submerging themselves in ice after strenuous activity. While you don’t have to go that far, soaking yourself in cool water for a short burst of time may actually help reduce post-workout fatigue and soreness.

Whether you’re a serious athlete, a regular gym-goer, or have just spent a lot of time on the move, finding something that can cut through that unignorable ache of soreness the next day is definitely worth looking into.

Trainer Tips

Ice cold baths potentially work on muscle soreness because cold water may cause your blood vessels to constrict. The more constricted your blood vessels are, the less blood flow there will be in certain areas of your body.

If you’ve been working out, or if you have an injury, you might end up with inflammation, redness, and swelling. The extreme cold of an ice bath may help decrease blood flow to the injured area, reducing inflammation and swelling.

Or, depending on how minor the injury is, these symptoms might not accumulate at all. This can potentially reduce your recovery time and spare you a lot of pain. All you need to do is take a quick dip in a cold bath.

There are other potential upsides for your physical health in cold bathing, too. Some studies have shown that regularly bathing in cold water can positively impact your immune system by increasing your white blood cells. This could reduce how often you get ill. 

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that, while taking an ice-cold bath may benefit your immune system, it didn’t seem to have an effect on serious illness. So while it may give you a boost, it’s definitely not an alternative to doctor-prescribed treatments and medicines.

Cold baths may also boost your metabolism, which, along with exercise and the proper nutrients, could help promote healthy weight loss. 

The Potential Anti-Depressive Effect of Cold Exposure

Lastly, cold water baths have been shown in some instances to help improve the symptoms of depression. While it’s no replacement for traditional therapies and medications, regularly bathing in cold water may activate the sympathetic nervous system. This can have a positive impact on your endorphin levels. More of this hormone is a good thing if you’re struggling to maintain a good mood.

Bathing or showering in cold water can also send all sorts of electrical impulses through your body. This burst of electrical activity through your peripheral nerve endings can actually affect your brain, resulting in an effect not dissimilar to that of an antidepressant. 

In order to get all of the benefits of cold water therapy, you’ll need to expose yourself to cold water on a regular basis. That said, you probably don’t need to submerge yourself in an ice-cold bath for a long period of time to reap the benefits.

Taking a cold bath will most likely take less time than luxuriating in a hot one. You can swap out an ice-cold bath for a cold shower when you’re short on time.

How Do You Make an Ice Cold Bath… Pleasant?

Utilizing cold water therapy is pretty intuitive. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like — fill your bath with cold, rather than hot, water and get on in there. But there are some strategies to keep in mind so that your cold bath can be something you look forward to if you want to get the benefits of cold therapy. 

The first thing you can do to make switching to cold water bathing less of a shock to your system is to ease into it. You can do this over a long period if you’d like, sort of like participants in a 5k or Marathon training program.

To start, slowly wean yourself off of hot showers or baths. Rather than scalding yourself, turn the hot water down just a little bit next time, and a bit more the time after that until you’re more accustomed to the temperature.

If You Still Love a Warm Shower

If you want to get to it faster, you can also change the temperature gradually, whether you’re in the tub or taking a shower. Start with a comfortably warm temperature, and slowly turn off the warm water until it’s at your desired chilly temp.

If you can’t stomach the idea of cold water therapy for your daily bath or shower, you can also consider taking a short swim in cold water. Swimming can provide all the benefits of cold water therapy without having it affect your day-to-day life.

While we’re trying to help you find solutions to making bathing, showering, or swimming in ice-cold water more pleasant, it’s also totally possible that you’ll enjoy the experience! Cold water can be invigorating and can really increase your alertness in the early morning (your central nervous system will thank you).

The Little Things That Make a Big Impact

Another way to make bathing in ice-cold water a more palatable experience is to give some thought to how you’re going to cope after. Once you get out of your cold bath, if you know you have some toasty, cozy towels waiting for you, it might be a bit easier to relax and enjoy the experience. And while deciding which sheets to get can be a challenge, choosing your towels should be a no-brainer.

Our Miracle Towel set will cover all of your bases when it comes to ensuring your post-bath experience is as cozy and clean as possible. Bathing in cold water can have a positive effect on your skin by helping to close your pores.

Then, using our Miracle Towels will help you go the extra mile by preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria. You can be sure bath time will leave you feeling clean and fresh. You’ll love them so much that you might want to grab some gift cards for friends and family to experience the same level of coziness.

Are Ice Cold Baths Safe?

Yes, ice-cold baths are safe — most of the time. The effect cold water therapy has on your body can potentially cause some issues if you have certain underlying conditions. If you have preexisting cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, an ice bath or other forms of cryotherapy might not be for you. 

If you’re planning to work ice-cold baths into your regular bathing routine, it’s worth having a quick discussion with your doctor or healthcare provider.

It’s also key to warm yourself up properly after submerging yourself in cold water. Always dry yourself off quickly. Don’t let the cold water linger too long on your body–it’s not even a little bit comfortable.

Pump In That Cold Water

Bathing in ice-cold water may sound like your worst nightmare at first, but once you consider all of the benefits that cold water therapy can potentially have, it might start to sound a bit more appealing!

With a little bit of planning and practice, ice-cold baths can become something you look forward to in your hygiene routine — almost as much as how great you’ll feel after a cold dip.

Sources:

Adapted Cold Shower As a Potential Treatment for Depression

Effects of Cold Water Immersion on Muscle Oxygenation During Repeated Bouts of Fatiguing Exercise

The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work



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