Ice baths…Don’t be left out in the cold, know the facts!

Ice baths have always been somewhat popular within athlete circles for post performance recovery, however, they have now become the mainstream and for good reason.

It has become common practice for people who engage in regular exercising to prepare their own ice bath. Believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong way to take them and Health Place aims to show you how.


How cold should it be?

Current research indicates that ice baths should be between 8 and 12 degrees (bitey, right?). Don’t assume that the colder the better as if your body is not used to ice baths, prolonged exposure can be detrimental to your health and recovery.


How long should I chill and how?

Many studies detail different numbers but once again research and anecdotal evidence points to roughly 8-12 minutes.

If you’re new to ice baths, we recommend slowly adapting yourself to them. Perhaps, the first few sessions you might find yourself only being able to tolerate a few minutes. Don’t be discouraged however, as you will build up a tolerance. Never force yourself longer than you feel is good for you, slowly work your way into that 8-12 minute bracket.

The definite key point to take away is NEVER fully submerging yourself fully into the water.

A good guide for this is the bottom of your ribcage. Never allow the water to go past this point as it could lead to dangerous complications. Although elite athletes do submerge up to their chest.


What will I feel?

At first you will feel shocked by the cold. It may become painful and intolerable. But if you can push through this, the parts submerged will become numb and the pain will subside. Remember, you may need someone to help you out of the bath after your 10 minutes. Have a plan in place!


So, I’ve had a bath, now what?

Now that you’ve essentially become an ice cube, let your body warm up naturally and no stretching while you are cold.


You could try CONTRAST BATHS. This is where you move from cold to hot and alternate (cold bath to warm pool, shower or simply a regular temp swimming pool)

The recommended guide totals the 10 minutes total as prescribed earlier.

It is important to ALWAYS start and finish with COLD; therefore you will total 6 minutes cold and 5 minutes hot.

Eg: Cold x 1 minute followed by

     Hot x 1 minute followed by

     Cold x 1 minute followed by

     Hot x 1 minute followed by

 And so on, finishing with cold in the 11th minute


To sum up…!


It’s easy to remember 10 minutes at 10 degrees Celsius. If that’s too cold, research says anything warmer than 14 degrees Celsius won’t have as great an effect.

ANY hydrotherapy (water therapy) used for recovery can help. So if ice baths aren’t for you, then simply floating in your pool or bath will help.


** You should always use ice baths, contract baths or any hydrotherapy in a supervised environment.