How Do Ice Baths Actually Work? - Your Body's Response to a Cold Plunge

You might be questioning why anyone would want to sit in near freezing cold water for any period of time.

 

Athlete's have been using this method for years and given the science behind your body's response to the cold, it makes perfect sense.

 

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

As you immerse your body in ice cold water, your body goes in to 'fight or flight' mode. This is due to the shock of the temperature to your nervous system. You may become breathless and panicked, so the key here is to try to remain calm and focus on your breath. 

 

INTERNAL RESPONSE

As the cold water hits your skin, your blood rushes to protect your vital organs. This encourages your heart to oxygenate your veins and pump blood more efficiently. As this happens, any fluid built up from exercise is flushed out, creating healthier blood flow. 

 

RECOVERY MODE

Since your blood has rushed to the aid of your heart, lungs and other organs, the flow of blood to the surface of your skin is constricted. This is effective in relieving aches or pains and treating injury, as it numbs the area and reduces pain receptors. Taking an ice bath post workout can help reduce the risk of further injury.

 

THE KEY TO HEALTH

White blood cells equal a healthier immune system. Ice baths stimulate the lymphatic system which is a network of vessels that run through the body. Keeping your lymphatic system well exercised through muscle contraction is key to good health, as stagnant fluid in the body can cause joint pain as well as colds and diseases. White blood cells are increased through the use of ice cold water therapy. These cells attack harmful, unwanted microbes that can be found in your vessels, so the higher your count, the less chance you have of becoming sick. 

 

A STRONG MIND

A strong immune system often leads to a stronger mind and more positive well-being. Those that are healthier generally tend to be happier - but if this isn't enough, as you take an ice cold bath you stimulate a series of chemicals that help to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Regular use can have positive, lasting effects on your mental health. 

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