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Don’t let those photos and videos of athletes submerging themselves in buckets and buckets of ice fool you. Adding all of that ice to your bath is not necessary to aid your recovery efforts.
In fact, to reap the recovery benefits of an “ice bath”, you don’t need ice at all. Cold water immersion doesn’t need ice because water from your bath faucet is cold enough to fight off delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is that soreness you feel the day or maybe even two or three days after intense exercise. The pain you feel is inflammation due to the influx of nutrients and fluids in your muscles to help repair the microtrauma caused by working out. Cold water immersion helps to reduce this inflammation. ...to reap the recovery benefits of an “ice bath”, you don’t need ice at all. Click To Tweet
We looked at the science and found that the ideal setting for an “ice bath” in order to decrease inflammation is a temperature between 52-59 degrees fahrenheit for a duration of 11-15 minutes. This temperature can be easily achieved by running cold water in your bathtub. No ice necessary. ...the ideal setting for an “ice bath” in order to decrease inflammation is a temperature between 52-59 degrees fahrenheit for a duration of 11-15 minutes. Click To Tweet
Water any colder than this or time spent any longer than the suggested duration was shown not to give you the optimal effects of cold water immersion. Adding ice and dropping the temperature below 52 degrees fahrenheit, as is often the case when using ice, can actually prevent you from optimizing your recovery.
So next time you are looking to take an ice bath, skip the ice and opt for the coldest setting on your bathtub. Optimize your recovery and save yourself the pain of frigid temperatures.