Ice baths have become an important part of sports medicine to help with recovery in the sporting arena. Many famous athletes use ice baths as part of their training regimes. Ice baths are exactly what they sound like, a bath like container filled with water and ice. The temperature in the bath needs to be between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius to be effective. Many top athletes use them as a way to help their body better recover from their training activities and match play. It is most often used by athletes that do a lot of running such as football players and triathlon athletes.
Why Do Athletes Take Ice Baths?
Athletes take ice baths as they are thought to have a positive and beneficial effect on the body. Ice baths help sore and tired muscles to heal. This helps to speed up the recovery time of the athlete and enable them to compete at their peak. When an athlete engages in vigorous, physical activity tiny tears begin to develop in the muscle fiber. This is what produces muscle soreness at around 24 to 48 hours after exercise. An ice bath helps to heal these tiny tears quicker, thus leading to a shorter recovery time. The ice bath also causes the blood vessels to constrict and flush lactic acid out of the muscles. Ice is also good for reducing any swelling and tissue breakdown. The coldness of the ice bath helps to relax the athlete’s muscles. Most athletes will follow an ice bath with a warming down activity or even a warm bath. This increases the blood flow through the muscles and tissue allowing new oxygenated blood to enter the area and help with the healing process.