Recovery: Ice baths and cryotherapy

April 20, 2018

Consistency and commitment to the little tasks in life really do pay off. The same goes with the small steps to recovery for taking care of your body. Ice baths and cryotherapy help your body to recover and avoid injury, as cold therapy helps the small tears in muscle fibers and soreness from repetitive or intense exercise to heal.

The choice to take an ice bath

After completing a hard workout, your body needs to recover. Ice baths help the tissue to warm and increase blood flow circulation, reducing the swelling and tissue breakdown. Instead of simply using an ice pack to treat a concentrated area, ice baths can flush waste products, like lactic acid and constrict blood vessels.

When lactic acid builds up in your legs, your muscles will function poorly, causing you to feel fatigued. Ice baths drain the lactic acid out of your muscles, and afterwards, your muscles will warm back up, helping you to recover quicker.

How it works

Grab a couple bags of ice, fill your bath with water and dump the ice in. Lower your body in, and if it’s your first time to take one, only submerge hip-deep. You’ll want to stay in there for 10 to 20 minutes, and never more than that.

What’s cryotherapy?

For those who haven’t heard of cryotherapy, it’s a treatment that involves the use of exposing your body to freezing or near freezing temperatures for roughly 3-5 minutes. Athletes use cryotherapy to treat injuries, as it can be used to numb pain, like an irritated nerve. This form of treatment can help with chronic pain, pinched nerves and acute injuries.

Cryotherapy also can reduce pain in people with arthritis, helping to make rehabilitation programs more effective. Not only that, but it can also reduce migraine symptoms by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area.

Need more information about ice baths? We adapted this post from Active and Men’s Journal, from articles that can be found here and here.

Curious about cryotherapy? We’ve got you covered with this article from Healthline, which we incorporated into this post.

If you have any questions about ice baths or cryotherapy, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.

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