Subscribe

Cold Therapy Benefits and What to Do After an Ice Bath

Sep 19, 2022
Cold therapy: Live Ice Plunge in a Lake

 

What is cold therapy?

Cold therapy is the deliberate cold exposure of the body in order to improve physical and mental performance and health. 

The most common and studied techniques are cold showers, cold baths, ice baths, and cryotherapy

Usually, only a few minutes are enough to get a significant positive effect on your mood, energy level, fat burn, and recovery.

 

 

 

Quick guide before ice bath

An ice bath is an immersion in ice-cold water under your neck for a short period of time.

 

How to make an ice bath

You can make simply an ice bath at home by running cold water into a bathtub and adding several buckets of ice. Here is the Podcast Epidose on a DIY home ice bath for circulating water and a container to create the cooling experience.

Or you can use a special ice bathtub and bath, like Ice Barrel or Morozko Forge, or the Odin are three of my favorites and all excellent in their customer service.

 

How to take an ice bath

An ice bath or a cold shower is best taken in the morning and in the afternoon

It has a significant stimulating effect and can worsen sleep quality if taken in the evening. So don’t take a cold shower before bed! 

But it can even improve night sleep if done earlier in the day. 

Take an ice bath or a cold shower in the morning to maximize your energy level all day long!

 

How long should you sit in an ice bath?

Start with 1 minute, gradually increasing to 3-5-10. 

An excellent protocol for ice baths comes from Andrew Huberman [1]. 

Andrew advises focusing not on time, but on the waves of adrenaline and noradrenaline entering the blood. We feel such waves as the desire to go out of the bath. He advises resisting at least 3 such waves. This will greatly strengthen your prefrontal cortex and, as a result, willpower

And this allows you not to depend on your mood and energy level, because one day even a minute in the bath can seem like an eternity, and on the other day, you can easily sit in an ice bath for 10 minutes speaking with friends.

 

How cold should an ice bath be

Start at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, gradually lowering the temperature and adding more ice. 

The temperature of the water should be like: “whoa I would really like to get out of this environment, but I can stay in safely”.



Ice Bath and Cold Shower Benefits

There are many studies on the effectiveness of cold therapy for improving physical and mental performance. Some studies look at cold shower benefits, others look at cold bath benefits and ice bath benefits, but the physiological mechanisms are the same: 

  • increasing adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine
  • increasing metabolism and fat burn
  • improving blood circulation and recovery processes

So let’s dive into cold therapy benefits and science!

 

Cold Therapy for Mental Performance

 

Energy level⚡

Just a few minutes in an ice bath or a bit more in a cold bath and a cold shower significantly increases the levels of adrenaline, norepinephrine (up to +530%), and dopamine (up to +250%) [2]. It energizes you both immediately after the cold, and for a whole 2 hours after, or even more! 

At the same time, the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, does not increase, which means that cold therapy is the ‘good’ stress, the so-called eustress[3], or hormesis.

 

Motivation and Drive🔥

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter for motivation and drive. When there is a lot of it, we are aimed at external goals and have the drive to achieve them.

Deliberate cold exposure increases dopamine up to 2.5 times, for several hours! [2]

 

Willpower and Stress Resistance🙏

Every time we resist the urge to get out of a cold bath or shower, we are exercising our prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for willpower and the ability to deal with stressors. The longer we sit in an ice bath, the easier it is for us to resist the stress in life!

 

 

Cold Therapy for Physical Performance

 

Metabolism and Fat Burn🏃‍♀️

Does a cold shower burn fat? 

A 2000 study found that being in a cold bath increased metabolism by 350%. [2] That is, you burn fat up to 3.5 times more efficiently! 

What's more, norepinephrine, which is greatly elevated when exposed to cold, turns white fat cells into brown! White cells are useless fat depots. Brown cells contain a large number of mitochondria, which burn this fat and turn it into heat! Therefore, they are brown, due to a large number of mitochondria inside. 

All this together: an increase in metabolism, the transformation of white fat into brown, and an increase in energy levels and motivation — greatly help to burn those extra pounds of fat!

 

Muscular Power💪, Muscular soreness and Recovery🔋

A great 2022 systematic review of 52 (!) studies related to deliberate cold exposure (cold showers, cold baths, ice baths) showed that: 

‘Cold water immersion is an effective recovery tool after high-intensity exercise. There are positive outcomes for increasing muscular power, reducing muscular soreness, perceiving recovery after 24 hours of exercise’ [5].

 

Testosterone👨 and Estrogen😍

A common question is also ‘what does a cold shower do sexually?’

Well, as we know, ice baths and cold therapy in general increase dopamine (up to 250% for 2+ hours).

And dopamine increases can trigger increases in luteinizing hormone, which can trigger increases in testosterone and estrogen — more testosterone in men, and more estrogen in women!

 

 

What to Do After an Ice Bath

Now that we already know how to make an ice bath, how to take it, and the ice bath and cold shower benefits science, let's talk about what to do after an ice bath, cold bath, or cold shower

To maximize the potential benefits of cold therapy, DO NOT use a hot shower or bath right after the cold one! Allow your body to warm up on its own. 

Thus, the body will:

  1. Maximize metabolism.
  2. Maximize turning white fat into brown fat.
  3. Improve blood circulation in tissues and, therefore, recovery.
  4. and Charge you with the maximum amount of energy for the whole day!

 

 

Ice Bath Tubs

So if you are excited as me after the ice tube, look at these three excellent products that I have used: Ice Barrel and Morozko Forge

🔥On my Shop page, you can find product codes for these products for Discounts up to $500!



⭐And here you can listen to the amazing Beautifully Broken Podcast Episodes, related to the Cold Therapy and Ice Baths topics:

 

 

 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.