No longer content with sea swimming, many people are choosing to install “ice baths” in their home to experience the benefits of cold water immersion therapy
Are you a fan of Wim Hof? Have you tried taking cold showers in the morning or going for sea swims throughout the year?
Then you’re probably one of the millions of people who has recently done an online search into ‘ice-bathing’ – the latest trend to take over the wellness industry with claims that it can cure everything from insomnia to chronic pain.
What is ice-bathing?
In sports therapy, ice-bathing is essentially a training regimen following an intense exercise period where you immerse the body in cold water for a limited amount of time to aid muscle recovery. It can be done by standing or sitting in a barrel or bath of ice water.
In Norway, the practice of taking an ice bath after spending time in a sauna is said to have health benefits – but this seems to be more because of the social and community elements of the practice than the ice-bathing itself.
It’s important to start off slow – if you’ve never done it before, begin with 2-5 minute immersions and work up from there. Staying in for too long without building up a tolerance for the cold can have a detrimental effect on your health.
A rise in popularity
Google search analysis by health and wellness website Fitness Brand reveals that the search for ‘Ice bath’ has exploded by 245% in the past five years worldwide, an unprecedented increase in people looking to start using ice baths. In the past 20 years, searches have risen for ‘ice bath’ by 536% worldwide. The data also reveals that searches for ‘cold plunge tub’ is at an all-time high – up 177% over the past 12 months across the globe.
Many celebrities have delved into using ice baths for various benefits, such as Chris Hemsworth’s routine involving an ice bath in the morning and a post-workout sauna to maximising his muscle recovery and growth.
Lady Gaga uses ice baths for post-performance to help manage chronic pain, fatigue, and sleep issues as she battles with fibromyalgia. Hailey Bieber has previously taken to TikTok to promote her series of cold plunges, with the one video captioned: ‘Cold plunging has helped me a lot with anxiety and overall mood.’
The celebrity-influenced trend has people globally searching for what well-being ice baths provide, with searches for ‘ice bath benefits’ up by 334% in the last five years.
What are the benefits of ice bathing?
William Taft, CEO of Fitness Brand, says the benefits include:
- Improved circulation
- Reduced inflammation
- Boosted immune system
- Mental resilience
- Improved sleep patterns
- Enhanced muscle recovery
What are some of the risks associated with ice bathing?
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure which can be dangerous to those with heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Hypothermia or frostbite
- Shallow water blackout – in extreme circumstances, loss of consciousness can happen if the practice is combined with hyperventilation or if someone attempts to hold their breath under water
It is essential to consult your doctor before taking a cold plunge to see if it would personally work for you, especially if you are undergoing any medical treatment.