The Ultimate Ice Bath Guide

If you’re interested in wellness, you’ll have undoubtedly heard about the ice bath craze that’s taking over the world. With spokespeople from fitness guru Joe Wicks to pop sensations Lady Gaga and Harry Styles, ice baths have become a hot topic of conversation in everything from health magazines to comedy podcasts.

Harry Styles loves an ice bath — here's why you will too

But what are the benefits of ice bath sessions? What’s the best way to approach your first ice bath? And what are some tips for ice bath maintenance? We put together this blog to answer all of these questions and more, so you can begin your personal ice bath journey with confidence. Brrrr!

Ice Bath Health Benefits

Much like with the fellow modern wellness trend CBD, many will tout countless benefits of an ice bath. You may have heard of ice bath benefits for skin health, depression relief, and treating muscle soreness, among many other things. Our research indicates that while there is truth to all of these, the primary benefits from ice baths are a boost in immunity and a reduction of stress – both mental and physical.

woman taking selfie

Ice Baths for Immunity

A Dutch study found that ice baths, along with meditation and deep breathing, gave participants an increased resistance to a bacterial infection when compared with control subjects. The combination of these three elements influenced participating bodies to produce more anti-inflammatory chemicals, fighting off the infection more effectively. They also were seen to produce fewer proinflammatory cytokines, meaning the impact of the infection was lessened.

Ice Baths for Stress & Mental Health

When it comes to ice bath benefits for mental health, stress, and anxiety, the results are more anecdotal, but similarly encouraging. In countless blogs, articles, and case studies, there are examples of cold water therapy aiding people with stress, anxiety, and depression, while also contributing to better sleep and rest. Something about the shock to the system is invigorating to the mind and body.

When is the Best Time to Take an Ice Bath?

You may be wondering, “when are ice baths most effective?”, and the answer depends on the purpose of the ice bath. The purposes of ice baths (beyond the health benefits that we’ll get into) are generally recovery after exercise, treating chronic pain, and mental health.

Note: Daily ice baths are good for all of these reasons.

When to Do Ice Baths for Recovery

If you’re using ice baths as a recovery method after heavy exercise, you should take the bath once your session is finished. It doesn’t have to be immediately afterward – as long as you do it within two hours of finishing your workout, your body should feel the effects. Be sure to prepare your bath so it’s ready for use when you get back from working out, so you don’t get put off in the moment.

When to Do Ice Baths for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can hit at any time depending on your condition, with different ailments affecting people at different periods of the day. However, many conditions, such as arthritis and chronic back pain, can hit hardest in the morning. For this reason, taking your ice bath soon after you wake up can be a fantastic way to take on the rest of the day.

When to Do Ice Baths for Mental Health

Much like chronic pain, drawbacks to mental health can rear their heads at any time. While an ice bath is sure to wake you up and activate your mind whenever you do it, this effect is likely to have the best impact earlier on in the day.

Are Ice Baths Good When You’re Sick?

Some argue that even when you’re ill, you should not miss your ice bath. We’d say that it depends on how ill you are. If you have a light cold or a sore throat, taking an ice bath should help your blood to circulate which will speed up your recovery. However, if you’re deep in illness with a fever, the ice bath is likely to put too much undue stress on your system.

topless man sitting on rock on beach

Ice Bath Tips

Before you can reap the benefits of ice baths, you need to know the best and safest way to approach taking them. You may think that jumping in at the deep end with the coldest water imaginable is the best thing to do – but before you channel your inner Wim Hof, do have a read of our step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Preparing the Area

Prior to even thinking about getting into your ice bath, you need to take some preparatory steps. For one, you should keep a towel and some clothes on the side ready to dry off and get into as soon as you’ve exited the bath. It’s also a good idea to consider setting an alarm because your first few sessions should only be fairly short, meaning you can properly get used to it. Anywhere between 3-6 minutes is a great place to start – though 1 is good, too!

Step 2: Preparing Your Body

It’s always good to get some preliminary practice by taking cold showers on a daily basis, so you can at least get familiar with the experience of being engulfed in cold water. In terms of temperature, anywhere between 10-20 degrees Celsius counts as an ice bath, and you should start at 20 degrees. If you try to get in at 10 degrees straight away, you risk burning your skin or severely shocking your body.

Once you’re used to 20 degrees, work your way down to 10 degrees, reducing the temperature by 1 degree every time that you use the tub.

It’s also vital to prepare your body for the experience in the moment. The best way to do this is through breathing exercises. Breathe deeply through your nose for anywhere between 1-3 minutes directly before you take your dip, exhaling and holding your breath on entry to the tub. Continue deep breathing once you’re in the water.

Once you’ve become more accustomed to taking ice baths, you should aim for around 10 minutes, but any longer than that could potentially cause hypothermia.

Step 3: Setting Up the Tub

Anyone can set up an ice bath in their home with nothing more than a tub, water, ice, and a thermometer. The process for an ice bath is pretty simple – just fill the tub with water, add your ice, and check the temperature with your thermometer. Remember, you only need to fill the water up around half way, as it will rise when you get in.

 child lifting water dipper

Ice Bath Maintenance

If you’ve set up or purchased an ice bath, it’s important to know how to best take care of it. This includes switching out the water, cleaning the tub, and storing it properly.

Switching Out Water

Emptying your ice bath every time you use it is a surefire way to waste water, which is especially pertinent during the cost of living crisis currently impacting the UK. You can keep the water in your ice bath for up to four weeks at a time before switching it out. Any longer than that and it risks becoming dirty and unhygienic. Of course, if the water looks visibly dirty, change it sooner.

Storing Your Ice Bath

While you can keep water in the ice bath for up to four weeks, you should only do this in conjunction with proper storage. This means keeping the ice bath covered, ensuring that not it doesn’t fill up with dust and contaminants. Keeping the ice bath outside during the colder months is also a great way to keep it at a steady temperature, depending on the season and where you live, of course.

Cleaning Your Ice Bath

You shouldn’t use overly harsh chemicals on the inside of your ice bath, as it could cause the internal treatments or coatings to become damaged. This could affect the quality of the water you sit in. The best course of action is to simply give the tub a good scrub, with diluted washing up liquid and water, every couple of months after emptying it out to switch the water.

Where Should I Get My Ice Bath?

If you’re looking to get your very own ice bath, then look no further than our very own website! We’ve got an ice bath on offer, complete with its own microfibre towel, cover, and thermometer, so you can enjoy all the benefits of a cold plunge in your own home!

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