What Exactly Constitutes a Cold Plunge? 

Cold water therapy, or cold water immersion (CWI), is a type of hydrotherapy, which is the umbrella term for using water to soothe pains and treat certain medical conditions. Cold water therapy can further be narrowed down to fit under the term cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is the use of cold to treat medical issues. 

Cold plunges can be done in bodies of cold water, like a lake or river, a tub of ice water, or even a cold shower; however cold plunge pools offer the easiest and most temperature-controlled environment for a cold plunge. 

How Do Ice Baths Help With Muscle Recovery? 

We’ve all been there. It’s the day after a tough workout and you can barely move your body because you’re so sore. You think it’ll be better the next day, but it isn’t, it’s worse. How can you avoid this soreness once you finally recover and can work out again? 

Why Am I Sore After Working Out?

When you exercise intensely, microtrauma and tears in your muscle fibers can happen. This damage stimulates muscle cell activity and helps your muscles repair, strengthen and adapt to the stress of the workout. However, this also explains the delay in when you feel pain and soreness, which usually happens 12 to 72 hours after exercise. Too much soreness can keep you from consistently working out. 

How Do Ice Baths Improve Muscle Recovery?

Ice baths reduce inflammation and improve recovery by changing the way blood and other fluids flow through your body. When you sit in cold water, your blood vessels constrict, and, when you get out, they dilate (or open back up). This process helps flush away metabolic waste post-workout. This is especially true with lymph, a clear fluid made up of white blood cells and fluid from your intestines. 

While your heart constantly moves blood around your body, your lymph nodes don’t have a pump. Ice baths constrict and open vessels manually, which helps stagnant fluids in your lymph nodes move throughout your body. Increased blood flow also floods your cells with nutrients and oxygen to help your body recover. 

How Do Ice Baths Promote Weight Loss? 

If your well-being journey includes losing some weight, an ice bath may help you on the way to your goal. 

One way that ice baths may promote weight loss is by increasing the body’s metabolism. When your body is exposed to cold temperatures, it activates brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of fat that burns calories to generate heat. This increase in BAT activity may help to boost the body’s metabolic rate, causing it to burn more calories even when at rest. 

Ice baths may also help reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that is associated with weight gain. High levels of cortisol can lead to increased appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods, which can make it difficult to lose weight. By reducing cortisol levels, ice baths may help control appetite and promote healthier eating habits. 

Because cold water therapy helps reduce inflammation and improve muscle recovery after exercise, you’re able to get back to working out quicker. A study published in the Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal found that ice baths improved muscle strength and reduced soreness, allowing participants to perform better during subsequent exercise sessions. 

Cold water therapy may also help to reduce stress and improve mood. Stress is associated with weight gain and unhealthy eating habits, so reducing stress levels may make it easier to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine. 

By helping your muscles recover faster between workouts, and helping your body shed weight, cold plunges may be the perfect addition to your fitness routine. 

Contact us to find out how to integrate cold plunging into your wellness routine.

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