A cold plunge also known as an ice bath is performed when you expose yourself to extremely cold icy water usually of temperatures around 5 to 8 degrees Celsius over a few minutes.
Even though it may sound painful, an ice bath is one of the quickest and most undemanding ways to calm down muscle pains after a workout. Taking an ice bath after an exercise helps to lessen muscle pains and feelings of fatigue.
Cold plunges are normally safe for individuals with no health problems. If you happen to have any cardiovascular issues it is advised you consult with a professional healthcare person before getting into it.
Cold plunge reduces swelling and boosts recovery by replacing the way other fluids and blood run through your body. When you immerse yourself in icy water, your blood vessels compress and when you get out, they expand which helps to drive out metabolic waste after workout.
There are many benefits related to cold plunges after an extreme workout for the entire body. The information below outlines these benefits to motivate you into adopting cold plunges after workouts.
Cold Plunge After Workout Benefits
Increased blood circulation
Blood vessels can balance your blood pressure and ensure good heart health. When you dip yourself into cold water, your body’s temperature falls, restricting your blood vessels and prompting the body to react immediately by pumping blood to vital organs. This enables them to function correctly.
The heart must function systematically to pump blood to these more critical places. So, in the long run, your heart works more effectively, thus lowering blood pressure and ensuring better heart health in the long run.
Reduces inflammation of the muscles
When you exercise, your muscles sustain small rips that require time to heal and grow. So, the body sends more blood to the torn area to help repair it.
The blood flow can increase inflammation in the area which in turn causes swelling and pain. Sinking yourself in cold water brings down the body temperature and contracts the blood vessels, lowering the blood flow rate to the torn area.
So it reduces inflammation and paralysis. This therapy helps sore muscle pains, ensuring you do not reach high levels of lactic acid.
Exposing your body to cold generates neurotransmitters and hormones like dopamine which helps in boosting motivation.
The cold water vitalizes your whole nervous system that triggers a fight or flight response improving your mind and reducing anxiety and stress.
Fight or flight response causes the brainstem to produce large amounts of adrenaline by stressing the body. This enables one to handle mental anxiety better.
The colder the water, the more the fight or flight response is activated. So an ice bath has better effects. Athletes who use this therapy are always calm and relaxed and can attain maximum concentration when performing.
Cold plunge therapy can enhance the ability of an athlete to perform more by escalating the levels of mitochondria in the body. These are microorganisms critical to endurance athletes’ training and performance in races. They must be adequately maintained with good nutrition and a cold plunge.
With higher mitochondria levels, athletes can compete and train more often without worrying about torn-out muscles. Cold plunge also reduces the effects of humidity and heat increasing performance.
Improves your sleep
In low temperatures, the body releases chemicals such as melatonin which induces sleep. That icy feeling gives you a sense of relaxation. In addition, the decreased heart rate and reduced stress make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Supports a healthy immune system
Submitting yourself to cold temperatures results in a stronger immune system, thus preventing common diseases. Cold water aids in the production of white blood cells. Additionally, they can circulate in the body faster on exposure to cold temperatures. More white blood cells mean better resistance to diseases.
Improves lung function
The feeling of breathlessness when you immerse yourself in cold water is surprisingly what will help lung function.
Holding your breath when you submerge into a cold plunge and slowly releasing your breath improves lung functioning. The systematic breathing that follows can be therapeutic and improve lung function.
In the long run, it helps athletes to endure long breaths during competition. It significantly improves performance.
Increases energy levels
A regular cold plunge can help increase norepinephrine levels and boost energy levels. Subjecting your body to extremely low temperatures regularly trigger changes in norepinephrine hormone secretion. This process helps in regulating your mood and improving focus.
The higher norepinephrine invigorates the fight or flight response. It provides energy to the body by working on the physical stress triggered by cold temperatures.
Struggling to stick to a workout routine? Submerging yourself in an ice bath could help cultivate discipline, which you can apply to real-life situations, including sticking to your workout.
It takes cognitive strength to submerge yourself in freezing water willingly. Managing to overcome the fear and hesitation of getting into the bath shows mental strength. It is even more impressive if you can wait out in the bath for a few minutes.
With this conquered, sticking to a workout or diet routine should prove easier.
It is advisable to take cold plunges after workouts as it gives a quicker reaction to the worn-out muscles.
However, it is important to note that taking a cold plunge can be dangerous to individuals with certain health conditions. Those with high blood pressure, open wounds, circulatory problems, and cold sensitivity are advised to consult health providers before adopting cold plunges.
If you are doing it for the first time, you should start slowly with a few minutes of relaxing and focusing on your breath. Increased breathing and nervousness can have a contradictory effect on stress and anxiety.
Those who are healthy and fit are encouraged to take six to eight minutes of cold plunging in an ice bath. And if the cold water sounds brutal, you can find helpful tips to guide you into smoother submersions each time.