loader image

What is Cold Water Immersion Treatment?

You may feel like taking a hot shower after an intense workout. But some experts suggest trying ice-cold water first. Athletes have been practicing cold water immersion treatment for a while. Still lately, it has gained popularity on social media platforms. So, let’s discuss: What is cold water immersion treatment? And should you try it?


What is Cold Water Immersion Treatment?


In simple terms, this practice involves submerging your body in water at or below 59 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after exercise. Many athletes use ice baths to speed up their recoveries. OIWK Physical Therapist Matt Scott says the practice can also benefit the general public.


“Cold immersion therapy has been shown to have positive effects on hormone response, recovery from activity, weight management, and overall well-being,” he explains.


This method creates hydrostatic pressure in your body, addressing any metabolic waste produced by inflammation. The pressure pushes the waste back into your bloodstream to reduce swelling and speed up recovery.


An ice bath can also boost post-workout recovery by lowering your muscle temperature. During normal workouts, the body breaks down muscle to rebuild stronger tissue. However, if you work out too hard, your body will keep breaking the tissue down even after you’ve stopped. Cold water immersion treatment slows that breakdown and allows the body to eliminate waste material produced during exercise.


This therapy has also been known to improve blood circulation. It stimulates blood flow to your vital organs, allowing your heart to pump more efficiently. Some also believe it can speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.


Does this practice have any risks?


Always consult your doctor before trying any new treatment. The icy water can shock your cardio-pulmonary system, so take a pass if you have conditions like cardiac arrhythmia or autonomic dysfunction.  Also, limit your time in the water to 10 minutes or less. You don’t want to risk hypothermia.


Also, note that some experts disagree on cold water immersion’s effectiveness, citing scant research on the subject. So, proceed cautiously and pay close attention to your body’s response in the water. And above all, maintain open communication with your physician.