Our expert staff have experience and knowledge in all aspects of physiotherapy and sports injury management.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Ice baths - beneficial or just cruel?

By Holly Brasher

Holly recently spoke to GQ magazine on the potential health benefits, dangers and myths surrounding cold water therapies such as ice baths, cryotherapy and more. 

 
Whilst medical science is not supportive of the latest crazes in freezing yourself and similar Holly talked about the use of cold water, warm water and contrast (hot/cold) water immersion that is common among sporting teams as a recovery method. Are they helpful? Or just cruel…
 
Why use Ice baths (cold water immersion)?
Cold water immersion has been shown to improve performance for the second bout of exercise of the day (after the cold water) - mainly for endurance events (and not sprint events).  For example: a tournament where players are playing twice in one day. Subjectively people feel less tired and less sore following cold water immersion and this may be a factor. The hydrostatic pressure created from immersion can also assist swelling and therefore is popular with contact sports. A great example of a good use of ice baths would be following games in a Rugby 7’s tournament where more than one game is played per day.
  
Are there any dangers to undertaking these methods?
There is a level of body temperature that cold therapy becomes detrimental to performance rather than a performance enhancer. It is suggested not going under 10 degrees. I would assume there may be some dangers associated with cryotherapy and the length of time a person is exposed. Similarly, for contrast therapy, due to using hot water, care should be taken in hot and humid environments.
  
Is embarking in cold water therapy as simple as running an ice bath at home, or should you in fact look to more established methods?
The most effective has been shown to be 15 degrees Celsius for at least 5 mins and no more than 20 mins. Although overall there is not too much difference in results between 15-20 degrees so if you don't have access to really cold water (i.e. Ice) then 20 degrees (tap water) would actually be fine. Different temperatures have been shown to be effective for recovery for different types of exercise. Cold water is more effective post non-impact, concentric and high intensity exercise. Contrast therapy (Cold 15 degrees and hot 38 degrees: 7 x 1 min swaps) is better post eccentric exercise.
 
Are there any other benefits?
Reducing your core temperature has also been shown to help aid sleep. So, running your shower cold at the end of your shower for as long as possible before bed will help send you off at night. (the same happened when you increase your core temperature by a few degrees so in cold weather a hot shower is also beneficial for aiding sleep).
 
SquareOne Physio is no stranger to treating high level athletes whose training programs include things such as ice baths. If you would like any information on how to improve your performance in your chosen sport we would be more than happy to answer your questions. 

December 6, 2017 0 Comments

Reader Comments

There are no comments on this post. Be the first!

Add Your Comments


(not published)

Physiotherapy

SquareOne Physiotherapists are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal problems.

Read more

Massage

SquareOne Remedial Massage Therapists are experienced in a wide range of soft tissue therapy techniques.

Read more

Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates involves the conscious recruitment and control of muscular movements in the body.

Read more
  • Kona Race Report 2018
  •  With 2018 coming to a wrap I thought I’d better get my Kona 2018 thoughts out. For all the triathletes out there or anyone that’s interested, here it is.

     
    Sport can be a great metaphor for life. It can be a medium that filters out noise, provides clarity, and elements of a performance can be isolated and distilled down to equate to an outcome. The outcome is usually binary, you play well or you don’t, you execute or you fail, you win or you lose. It’s a platform that with analysis and planning allows purpose and direction. From this process comes clarity and focus. Commitment to the process is really the difference between good and great, it’s what makes elite performers excel in their chosen field. These elements all provide great lessons in life. I’ve taken several weeks to reflect on my post Kona thoughts. One of these reasons is that I’ve simply been flat out getting back to work and I wanted to wait a while to decompress. I didn’t see a lot of value in writing something when I’m still charged from the heat of the battle. A Kona campaign with the intention of performing well is an all consuming task.
  • Top pelvic floor tips every women should follow after having a baby
  • We all hear how important it is to look after your pelvic floor after having a baby - but what does that actually mean?!

     

     

  • Check out our new Performance Programme
  • SquareOne Performance is a physio led Clinical Strength and Conditioning program that is outcome focused and goal orientated. The program is specific to your needs, sport or activity and takes into account your injury history

  • Sol has had her baby!
  • "It's 4.27am and I am awake! I don't remember when was the last time I was awake this early!"

  • Have you heard of the Strappt App?
  •  The Strappt App is a mobile app which utilizes the knowledge and experience of an Australian Physiotherapy Association accredited Sports Physio to educate and assist in the art of joint strapping for injury rehabilitation.