How Long Should You Stay In An Ice Bath

How Long Should You Stay In An Ice Bath

Mai Delacruz

Mai Delacruz
Personal Fitness Trainer & Health Coach

Updated on 12/7/2022

How long should you stay in an ice bath? Getting into an ice bath after going for a run is likely to make you shiver and tremble unless it is a hot and humid summer day and you have just finished a problematic interval exercise. In that case, getting into an ice bath after running could help you feel more relaxed. In this scenario, the idea of taking an ice bath after a run can be precisely what the orthopedist has prescribed for you to speed up the recovery process. On the other hand, several advantages come along with having an ice bath, and these benefits might make the experience enjoyable.

Ice baths, also known as immersion in cold water, are a frequent type of post-exercise recuperating that helps avoid injuries in athletic training and sports rehabilitation. Ice baths are also known by another name: immersion therapy. Even while the data supporting the benefits of post-workout ice baths on recovery has been inconclusive, many elites and professional runners, including a fan favorite named Meb Keflezighi, swear by their cold immersion.

Ice bath

Are you interested in finding out whether or not taking ice baths may be the missing component of your running recovery and performance? If so, read on. Please continue reading for our guide to ice baths for runners, in which you will learn about the benefits of ice baths for runners, how long an ice bath should be, what you should do after an ice bath, and more.

In this guide, we are going to examine the following topics:

  • What Exactly Is An Ice Bath?
  • Do Ice Baths Work?
  • Advantages Of An Ice Bath
  • How Cold Does An Ice Bath Need To Be?
  • How Long Should You Take An Ice Bath?
  • What Should You Do After An Ice Bath?
  • Are Ice Baths Risky?
  • How To Prepare An Ice Bath At Home
  • Ice Bath Tips

Let's dive in!

What Exactly Is An Ice Bath?

Cryotherapy, which involves being exposed to frigid temperatures, can also be done through ice baths (cold therapy). After completing an exercise, this technique calls for positioning the lower back, hips, and legs inside a tub filled with icy water or ice water for a certain period. This approach aims to minimize inflammation and discomfort caused by the activity.

Do Ice Baths Work?

Ice bath

The outcomes of the study that has been done to discover whether or not ice baths are effective in enhancing muscle recovery have generated findings conflicting with one another. You did this to determine whether or not ice baths are beneficial in improving muscle recovery. In some investigations, the researchers detected a substantial decrease in the intensity of muscle soreness and inflammatory markers. However, in other studies, you reported none of these outcomes. Compared to this, some studies have demonstrated performance improvements, while others have not.

The findings of previous studies have led researchers to conclude that ice baths. At the same time, they may be an effective recovery modality but are not more effective than other active recovery alternatives such as light jogging. This finding is based on the fact that ice baths may be an effective recovery modality but are not more effective than other active recovery alternatives.

Advantages Of An Ice Bath

A runner who takes an ice bath may experience a range of benefits, including the following, as a result of the experience:

Ice Baths Could Help With Muscle Pain

Ice bath

Are you experiencing muscle soreness due to your recent training, long run, or competition? Numerous studies have shown that taking an ice bath after exercising reduces the degree of muscle soreness that is felt as a result of the workout. That is the primary objective of ice baths, and a number of these research have demonstrated that ice baths accomplish this objective.

Because prolonged exposure to cold causes the blood vessels in your legs and hips to constrict, it becomes more difficult for blood to circulate freely throughout the body. That is because the blood vessels in your legs and hips carry blood. As soon as you step out of the ice bath, the blood vessels in your body instantly dilate, flushing out the metabolic waste products that might cause delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and boosting the nourishing blood supply. DOMS is an acronym for delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Ice Baths Could Help With Inflammation

After a long run, taking an ice bath can help reduce inflammation because it combines cryotherapy with the hydrostatic pressure created when the water presses on your legs due to the weight of the water. That is a result of the utilization of cryotherapy in conjunction with the application of hydrostatic pressure.

Ice Baths Might Help With Post-Workout Fatigue

Ice bath

You may feel less tired after your run due to the reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and the other benefits of ice baths that promote healing. Preparing for the second session will make it easier for you to get back into the swing of things after taking some time off.

Ice Baths May Boost Performance

If you are a runner, you might be able to increase your performance by taking regular ice baths since they make it possible for you to train more vigorously and more regularly, both of which can lead to significant improvements in performance. That is because many runners are under the impression that ice baths accelerate recovery after training, and it's also been shown that ice baths can help lessen muscular discomfort.

Ice Baths May Help You Sleep Better

There is some evidence to suggest that a treatment that involves immersion in cold water may enhance the quality of one's sleep. One such treatment is called cold water therapy. [There must be other citations for this] [There must be additional citations for this] On the other hand, it is essential to keep in mind that the advantages were maximized for the athlete when their whole body, including their head, was submerged in the solution. That is the case, even if this may sound counterintuitive. That is something that must remain in your mind at all times.

It is hypothesized that the ice bath's influence on the central nervous system is responsible for a large portion of the benefit experienced using it.

Ice Baths May Boost Mental Toughness

Ice bath

You can perhaps strengthen your mental fortitude by submitting yourself to the excruciating discomfort of an ice bath and staying in the water for as long as you can stand it. When it comes to the advantages that an ice bath may bestow upon a person, this particular perk is perhaps the one about which there is the least space for argument.

Many of the best runners in the world believe that being able to train to the point where one can tolerate an ice bath is a strong indicator of an athlete's mental fortitude and capacity to persevere through a challenging situation for a lengthy period. That is because tolerating an ice bath demonstrates an athlete's ability to persist through a difficult situation for an extended period. Running requires a certain amount of boldness, determination, and perseverance on your part.

The moment you put even one toe into an ice bath, every thought that wanders through your head yells, "I can't go in that!" On the other hand, if you can keep your composure and get through it, the first excruciating pain will begin to lessen as you start to numb. That will happen if you can go through with it. You will be rewarded with a higher quality of life if you accomplish your goal.

Your mind may try to talk you out of doing things you are fully capable of accomplishing when you are confronted with a challenging task, such as a race or an exercise. That may occur when you are presented with challenging and strenuous activity, and that might be because your mind is attempting to guard you against embarrassment or disappointment.

How Cold Does An Ice Bath Need To Be?

Ice bath

Water will begin to freeze at 0 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the advice of the overwhelming majority of rehabilitation specialists, the best temperature for ice baths is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius (50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit) (or 10-15 degrees Celsius).

How Long Should You Take An Ice Bath?

The question of how long a person should be forced to remain submerged in ice frequently causes us to reject the concept. There has been a substantial lot of research done on the subject, and the findings of the vast bulk of it suggest that an ice bath should last for somewhere in the range of 11 to 15 minutes. That enhances the advantages of cryotherapy, which you

may do by immersing yourself in cold water without producing excessive stress, putting tissues in danger of frostbite, or putting the body at risk of hypothermia. Cryotherapy can be beneficial for a variety of medical conditions.

Suppose you have never experienced the benefits of an ice bath before. In that case, it is suggested that you start with a session that lasts no more than five minutes and then progressively increase the length until you reach the maximum of fifteen minutes. If you have already experienced the benefits of an ice bath, there is no need to undergo the process again.

What Should You Do After An Ice Bath?

Ice bath

After gently extracting oneself from an ice bath, thoroughly drying yourself with a towel and dressing in some warm, dry clothing are the following steps to do after that. Your feet may feel numb; hence, you should move around with the utmost caution and consideration so that you do not injure yourself by falling.

If you have severe hypothermia, you should think about trying to raise your body temperature back up by taking a hot shower and drinking hot beverages. Because it is conceivable that your skin will not be able to sense how hot the water is adequate, you should proceed with caution while increasing the temperature of the water in the shower. Doing this would be best because you want to avoid scalding yourself.

Are Ice Baths Risky?

The vast majority of runners are under the notion that ice baths do not pose any risks to them; nonetheless, there are a few essential safety considerations that you should keep in mind at all times:

Frostbite and hypothermia are two conditions that can result from extended exposure to low temperatures, and these two disorders are known as frostbite and hypothermia, respectively. If you want to stay in the ice bath for more than 15 minutes, you should get out of it as soon as possible. You should NOT take an ice bath if you have problems with your circulation or peripheral neuropathy unless you have first visited your primary care physician or another trained medical expert.

Ice baths are not recommended for pregnant women with diabetes, cardiovascular ailment, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or post-traumatic orthostatic hypotension syndrome (POTS). to relieve muscle soreness after a run. It is vital to check with a medical practitioner to see whether it is okay for you to take an ice bath immediately after your run. If it is safe for you to do so, it will help reduce muscle soreness.

How To Prepare An Ice Bath At Home

Ice bath

You will probably have to set up an ice bath in your own home if you do not have access to a facility specifically for sports training. If you are unable to gain access to a facility of this kind, you should make arrangements to have an ice bath performed in your own house. You will need access to a bathtub or a vast container, such as a kiddie pool, to participate in this activity. A bathtub is the preferred option.

It is recommended that ice be added to the water in the bathtub before going in so that it is a more pleasant temperature. The advice that the overwhelming majority of authorities have provided is to use a ratio in which there is one part ice to three parts water.

  • If you want to soak more than just your lower legs, fill the bathtub to its maximum capacity. However, make sure to leave some headspace at the very top so that there is room for the water that your body will push down when you get in. If you want to soak more than just your lower legs, fill the bathtub to its maximum capacity.
  • After it has been heated, the water will need to cool down for around ten minutes before it can be considered at the appropriate temperature. If you have access to a thermometer, you should aim for a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have access to a thermometer, you should not do this (or 10-15 degrees Celsius).
  • Take a few steps back, inhale deeply many times, and then proceed forward into the structure!
  • Soak for 5-15 minutes.

Ice Bath Tips

Ice bath

It is not an easy task to jump into an ice bath or to remain in such an environment for a significant amount of time after doing so. You can make ice baths more pleasurable for yourself by doing any or all of the following things, which will also allow you to continue taking advantage of all of the benefits that are involved with doing so:

Just Get In

If you go ahead and give the procedure a chance, you may discover that it is not quite as enticing as you had anticipated. That is one of the potential outcomes that might occur if you take this step, and this is only one of many possible outcomes. After taking a few deep, leisurely breaths, the next step is to concentrate on packing as much air as you can into your lungs at once.

Buy Wetsuit Booties

However, neoprene wetsuit socks or booties can provide the necessary protection for your feet, which are likely to experience the most pain while wearing a wetsuit. That is because your feet are more exposed to the elements.

Sip Tea

Ice bath

If you're suffering from a cold, you might find that drinking something hot helps ease some of the discomforts.

Layer Up

If there is no way that your upper body can fit into the bathtub when it is full of water, you may still keep your upper body warm by donning a sweater or top. That will prevent your upper body from being cold and help protect it from the cold by preventing it from becoming chilly.

Add Ice As You Go

If you're having trouble getting into an ice bath, you may always start by submerging yourself in cold water first. Your body will be more prepared for the ice bath if you do this first. When you first enter the premises, your priority should be to begin loading ice into the refrigerator quickly. Because the water won't be as freezing to start with, you'll need to spend a little longer in the ice bath (up to 20 minutes). Still, this manner is a more acceptable approach for acclimation to the surroundings and the temperature of the ice bath.

Why don't you give taking an ice bath a try to see if it helps expedite your recovery now that we've gone over some of the possible benefits of doing so and some helpful advice for doing so? After all, we've gone over some potential benefits of doing so and some practical advice. You might also find it beneficial to check out some of the additional helpful recovery tips that we have provided in this post, which are as follows: How long should you stay in an ice bath? You may implement these recuperation strategies in whatever order makes the most sense to you.


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