Is Ice bath safe

Cryotherapy Vs Ice Bath: Which Is Better For Muscle Recovery

Jonathan Scorey

If you're an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you've probably heard of cryotherapy and ice baths as effective forms of cold therapy for muscle recovery and other health benefits. But which is better, and how do they differ? In this article, we'll take a closer look at cryotherapy vs ice baths, including the key differences, benefits, and potential risks on the human body.

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KEY DIFFERENCES

While both cryotherapy and ice baths involve exposure to cold temperatures, there are some key differences in how they work. Cryotherapy typically involves standing in a cryotherapy chamber for a few minutes, while surrounded by extremely cold air (usually around -110°C). Ice baths, on the other hand, involve immersing the body in a tub of cold water (usually around 10-15°C) for several minutes.

BENEFITS OF ICE BATHS

Ice baths have been shown to be effective for reducing inflammation and muscle tissue soreness after exercise. This is because exposure to cold temperatures causes the blood vessels to constrict, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Additionally, ice bathing can slow down metabolic processes in the body, which can help reduce muscle pain and speed up recovery.

BENEFITS OF CRYOTHERAPY

Whole body cryotherapy is a newer form of cryotherapy that involves exposing the body’s core to extremely cold temperatures (around -110 °C) for a few minutes. This form of cryotherapy has been shown to have similar benefits to ice baths, including reduced inflammation and improved muscle recovery. However, due to the extreme temperatures involved, cryo chamber therapy has been found to have a greater impact on the body's nervous system and energy levels.

Benefits of whole body cryotherapy - Nerve Performance

WHAT IS COLD THERAPY

Cold therapy, in general, has been found to activate the body's natural healing mechanisms. Exposure to cold temperatures triggers a shock response in the body, which can lead to an increase in overall energy and mental clarity. Additionally, the sudden drop in temperature during a cryotherapy session has been found to increase the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which can improve mood and focus.

WHAT IS A COLD PLUNGE

A cold plunge is another form of cold therapy that involves immersing the body in cold water (usually around 10-15°C) for a few minutes. This form of cold therapy has been found to have similar benefits to ice baths, including reduced inflammation and improved muscle recovery. However, cold plunges are often shorter in duration than ice baths, and can be more convenient for people who don't have access to a tub of cold water.

What is a cold plunge?

NORMAL TEMPERATURE VS EXTREMELY COLD TEMPERATURES

While both cryotherapy and ice baths can be effective for muscle recovery and other health benefits, there are some potential risks to consider. Exposure to extremely cold temperatures can lead to frostbite or the risk of hypothermia, particularly if sessions are too long or the temperatures are too low. It's important to follow safety guidelines and recommendations when using either method to stay safe in icy water.

EFFECTS ON THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM AND ENERGY LEVELS

Both cryotherapy and ice baths have been shown to have positive effects on the body's nervous system and significant energy increase. Cold therapy has been found to activate the body's natural fight or flight response, leading to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. This can result in increased energy and mental alertness. Additionally, cold exposure has been shown to increase the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which can improve mood and focus. Cryotherapy, in particular, has been found to have a greater impact on the body's nervous system due to the extreme temperatures involved.

DURATION AND FREQUENCY

When it comes to both cryotherapy and ice baths, it's essential to keep in mind that both should be used in moderation. Overuse or extended exposure to cold temperatures can lead to negative side effects and cause harm to the body. In terms of duration, a typical ice bath should last around 10-15 minutes (total time), while whole body cryotherapy sessions usually last between 2-4 minutes.

As for frequency, it's generally recommended to limit the use of cold therapy to 1-3 times per week, depending on individual needs and tolerance. It's crucial to listen to your body and give it enough time to rest and recover in between sessions. A new study from Dr. Andrew Huberman states that the best time for an ice bath or the use of cryotherapy is before a workout if hypertrophy is your prime focus. Dr. Andrew Huberman also suggests that waiting until the next day is a better option if you have already trained that day.

Ice bath your way! - Nerve Performance

INDIVIDUAL PREFERENCE

If you are interested in trying cold therapy for yourself, there are several different methods you can choose from. Ice baths and cold plunges involve immersing your entire body in water that is cooler than your normal body temperature, typically around 10 degrees Celsius or lower. Whole-body cryotherapy, on the other hand, involves standing in a chamber that is filled with extremely cold air, typically around -130 degrees Celsius or lower. This can be a more comfortable option for those who do not enjoy being immersed in water for extended periods of time.

Regardless of the method you choose, it is important to approach cold therapy with caution, as exposure to extremely cold temperatures can be dangerous if not done properly. It is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before trying cold therapy, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

OUR TWO CENTS

The Nerve Performance team swear by Ice baths. We may possibly take it a little too far with our ice water and our body's reaction may say we are crazy but it all depends on your personal goals. An interesting effect of cold water immersion we have found is the benefits for the skin's surface. From reduced inflammation of acne to an amazing glow, ice baths have us looking like an Instagram thirst trap. 

Our setup is quite unique to say the least as you can see in the cover image of this article. We found a very cost effective way to run and maintain our ice bath in the warmer areas of Australia, by using a standard chest freezer you can pick up for $200-$300 second hand, we put silicone lining in the tub to basically guarantee there are no leaks. Filled it up with water then put 3-6 5kg bags of ice in. On day one don't hop in, instead shut the lid and run the freezer for 1-3 hours. Every day after this you can use the ice bath and continue to run it for 1 hour per day on a timer if possible to maintain the ideal cold temperature of the water.

Mens workout shorts - Nerve Performance

 

I personally challenge you to give cold therapy a go, obviously doing it once you won't reap the benefits, so try 2 weeks and see how you feel after!

Hitting the gym after your cold therapy session?  Shop our affordable premium gym wear made for the modern athlete! - shop now 

 

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