If you're looking to speed up recovery after a tough UAE workout or improve your mental strength from the business of Dubai life, a portable ice bath tub in the comfort of your own garden, may be the answer. A convenient tool, giving you all the benefits, without the hassle.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the main benefits of using an ice bath tub as part of your fitness routine and share a few tips for maximising those benefits of this powerful recovery tool.
the benefits of ice baths
Ice bath tubs are a cold water immersion tool used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to help physical recovery and build mental toughness. They've been used for centuries, across many different cultures.
The idea is to expose your body to cold water, usually between 10-15 degrees Celsius (50 and 59 F), for short periods of time, eg. 10 minutes. This can help reduce inflammation, ease muscle soreness, and speed up recovery after a workout.
Studies have also shown that ice baths can help improve your mental strength by triggering the release of endorphins - a natural mood booster, whilst giving you greater confidence from pushing outside your perceived boundaries.
Let’s go a bit deeper on the key benefits of using a portable ice bath tub in your health and fitness routine.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury, infection, or stress, and often leads to pain, stiffness, and soreness in the muscles
Cold water therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise.
When you expose your body to cold temperatures, it constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the affected area and decreasing inflammation.
Cold water therapy has also been found to have pain-relieving properties. When the body is exposed to cold temperatures, it can help reduce pain and discomfort by numbing the affected area.
If you've ever had a muscle injury or joint pain, you know how debilitating it can be. Pain can also be a common side effect of intense workouts, leaving you feeling sore and uncomfortable - whether from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) or a more serious injury.
When using cold water therapy for an injury or sore muscles, it acts as a natural painkiller by slowing down nerve impulses that transmit pain signals to the brain.
This is why you see athletes use ice packs or cold compresses on injuries - to relieve pain and help them recover faster.
IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW
By constricting your blood vessels, the cold temperatures of an ice bath can help improve circulation, which can help flush out toxins and promote general healing.
When blood vessels constrict in response to cold temperatures, it reduces the blood flow to muscle tissue, which reduces heat loss and helps to maintain core body temperature. However, once the body is rewarmed, the blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow back to those areas, promoting circulation and oxygenation.
Several studies have shown that cold water immersion therapy can improve circulation, leading to better physical performance.
One study, published in the British Journal of Medicine, used 2 groups to test the effectiveness of Cold Water Therapy on recovery. Following a 35 minute all-out workout, the groups split in half for 15 minutes of either active recovery (ACT) or cold water immersion therapy (CWI). Both groups then had 40 minutes of passive rest followed by another 35 minute workout.
The study measured the performance change between the two workouts and found a “significant decline in performance after ACT compared with CWI, where performance remained unchanged”.
One of the primary reasons was due to the difference in blood flow.
SPEED UP RECOVERY
Ultimately, this ties in to those first three points, but it deserves its own heading - because the science is getting louder and louder. If you follow AFL football and have ever wondered why many players are waist deep in Port Philip Bay on a Sunday morning - this is why.
By reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and improving circulation, using cold water (like an ice bath, or Melbourne beaches) after a heavy workout can help speed up recovery - helping players recover faster for their next match, or everyday warriors for their next workout.
A recent meta analysis published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning investigated the effects of cold water immersion on recovery in team sports. It found “CWI (Cold Water Immersion) were beneficial in attenuating decrements in neuromuscular performance 24 hours following team sport” and went on to recommend “2 × 5 minute immersions of 10° C with 2-minute seated rest in ambient temperature between immersions”.
A key point of this study, however, was that the majority of the benefit came when the teams used Cold Water Immersion Therapy within 24 hours of the activity - which is why AFL players are doing it the day after a match. This is an important point to consider when using ice bath tubs in your exercise routine.
getting the most out of your ice bath session
Ice Bath Tubs are widely considered to be more effective than cold showers. To get the most out of your ice bath tub, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Time and Temperature: The first thing you need to consider when taking an ice bath is the temperature and duration. Over time - aim for a temperature of around 10-15°C (50-59°F) and a duration of 10 to 15 minutes. BUT - don’t be a hero. Work up to these targets using warmer water and shorter sessions. Listen to your body. It will be shocked at first. Your breathing and heart rate will increase and hypothermia is a real thing. The benefits of cold water immersion accrue over time. There is no rush. You can learn more about where the 10-15 rule comes from in this article.
- To the neck: Ice Bath benefits improve when your whole body is under the water, with your head out. As with that first point though - build yourself up to this. Wear a warm top or something on your arms if you’re only going chest deep the first few times. Or wear a beanie to keep some of that heat in your head when you’re submerged.
- Breathing Techniques: Ice baths can be challenging, especially if you are new to the experience. Proper breathing techniques can help to manage the discomfort and make the experience more bearable. Take deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to calm your body and mind. Read up on Wim Hoff - the OG when it comes to cold exposure.
- Afterwards: After an ice bath, follow a simple recovery routine and let your body warm back up naturally. This might include sipping a hot drink, light stretching or a breathing routine. Don’t jump straight into a hot shower.
- Consistency: The benefits of ice baths are cumulative, which means that you will see the most significant benefits over time. Consistency is key when it comes to ice baths, so take them regularly. Start with one or two sessions a week and gradually increase the frequency as your body adapts.
While the idea of submerging oneself in ice-cold water may seem daunting at first, the benefits are becoming clearer - particularly within 24 hours of exercise.
Whether you're a professional athlete, fitness enthusiast or simply looking to improve your overall health and well-being, adding ice baths to your routine may be worth considering.
The most important point is safety. Don’t be an idiot and speak to your doctor. As with any form of therapy or exercise, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase intensity and duration. Benefits accrue over time. There’s no shame in doing 30 seconds today if it leads to 10 minutes tomorrow.
Embrace the Cold. But don’t be silly.