Benefits of an Ice Bath
Long runs are important to runners training for long distances as they enable the athlete to run greater distances efficiently and safely. Unfortunately, running over long distances also tends to increase athlete’s risk of injury and strains, which often result in unwelcome and unplanned time off. The best way to avoid such incidences is cold water immersion, and is popularly known to many as an ice bath. Many professional athletes use ice immersion as an effective way to minimize muscle pain, and recover fast after vigorous competitions or training sessions. The benefits of ice immersion are as follows;
1. Reduces tissue breakdown and swelling
Whether scientific studies support the ice bath immersion or not, many professional athletes swear that it helps to prevent muscle injury and strain, and also aids in faster recovery. Ice bath immersion produces a lasting effect in deep tissues, which consecutively helps in cooling larger muscle groups.
2. Flush harmful metabolic wastes
Ice bath immersion is not only effective in suppressing swelling; but also aid in flushing harmful substance from the muscles, such as lactic acid. Ice bath immersion increases blood flow in the body, which in turn leads to cellular breakdown in the lymph system.
3. Decrease metabolic activity
According to recent scientific studies, ice bath immersion is also effective in reducing metabolic activity in athletes. It reduces metabolic activity by constricting the blood vessels, which in turn minimizes tissue breakdown and inflammation. On the other hand, cold water immersion which is also referred to as water therapy is popularly used to reduce muscle soreness and exercise recovery.
4. Improves healing process
With increase in blood circulation after performing intensive exercises, ice bath immersion is a standard routine among professional athletes as it enhances the healing process.
The main disadvantage is that contrast water therapy and ice water bath studies on muscle soreness and exercise recovery offer contradictory and inconclusive findings. Although the practice is common among professional athletes, there is no scientific finding that ice bath immersion reduces muscle soreness.