Cold exposure is being used as a healing mechanism from the history of martial arts and there is no surprise why some of the popular athletes and top boxers are recommending ice baths for better conditioning.
In this article, I’ll dig deep into the benefits and explain to your exactly whether or not you should consider taking an ice bath!
So, Why Do Boxers Take Ice Baths?
Many boxers take ice baths as a post-workout healing therapy because it relaxes the sore muscles and reduces inflammation while impacting your mental health in a positive way. Depending on your body mass, 10-15 minutes of an ice bath can instantly improve your recovery time and set your mood for the day.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and how exactly does ice baths heal and condition your body for better performance:
Benefits of Taking Ice Baths for Boxing
Even though each boxer has their own opinion related to the effectiveness of ice bath, here’re some of the most common advantages of taking an ice bath:
1. Eases Achy and Sore Muscles
Ice bath provides potential muscles recovery benefits and also helps boxers to make their body feels good. Ice bath basically helps the muscles to reduce this inflammation and soreness.
After an intense boxing workout, the muscles of the body started burning and become achy. When you immerse the body in cold water the blood vessel becomes smaller due to constriction, and when you came out of the tub it reopens quickly and removes all the metabolic waste product.
It happens because of rapid changes in the surrounding temperature. Such a speedy swap also provides nutrients and needed oxygen to the muscles which help your body to recover from workout pain.
2. Quicken Recovery Speed
As a boxer, this is one of the major benefits for you because lowering the fatigue and reducing the recovery time after high-intensive sparring sessions allows you to focus more on your boxing training and increase dedication towards your own performance.
The University of Malaysia performed a study on a bunch of athletes where they go through an intense physical exercise followed by 15 minutes of an ice bath.
They measure the wave activity of their brain and found that taking an ice bath is one of the simple yet effective ways to deal with post-workout fatigue.
It not only makes the sensation of pain dull due to muscle swelling but also works on the root cause and helps you to minimize the overall collateral pain by numbing your nerve endings through distraction stimuli.
3. Better Ring Performance
You need to understand, your athletic performance is not going to improve over the night just because you go and sit in the bathtub after your workout session.
Definitely, you’re going to feel a lot better, and taking an ice bath does have a positive impact on your central nervous system but it’s more perceived than anything else.
If you take an ice bath before starting your training on a hot and humid day, it may enhance your performance but it is definitely going to help you sleep well that ultimately leading to a better reaction time and explosiveness for future sessions.
4. Boost Mood and Mental Health
In the initial days, when you get started with ice bathing, it’s a major challenge for almost all of the boxers. However, if you try to stay relaxed and strive to focus on a breath the more this process becomes easier to accomplish.
These adaptions have obvious implications on mental health in a positive way. Research also says that ends of brain impulses receive a jolt of electrical impulses through cold receptors due to ice bath.
This whole internal procedure improves your mental health, alertness and boosts your mood which is going to help you to maintain consistency throughout your boxing training and thus ultimately assist you in the progression of your boxing career.
5. Reduces Trauma of the Punches
When boxers are delivering solid punches after punches, the kinetic energy gets continuously transferred to their muscles and surrounding tissues at the point of contact.
Taking an ice bath not only lowers the swelling and soreness from extreme muscle exertion but also increases the blood flow and helps you with inflammation of the muscles.
6. Supports Immunity System
Along with this, research in 2016 says that adults and even children are less likely to get ill who takes cold water bath. That’s why I started taking the ice bath in the first place.
A study done in 2014 claimed that cold baths improve your overall immune system and allow your body to develop a powerful anti-inflammatory response towards common bacterial infections.
Having a good and healthy immune system not only allows you to continue your intense boxing workout without any compromise but also helps you to build your character as an athlete.
Common Questions About Ice Bath After Workout:
Here’re some of the frequently asked questions from beginner athletes who wanted to get started with this new concept of healing. If you have any other doubt, feel free to put them down in the comments:
How Long Do Boxers Stay in Ice Bath?
On average, professional boxers take ice baths for almost 20 minutes. Some boxers recommend an hour-long session whereas some try to finish things up in as low as 5 minutes.
The real challenge is that initial shock to your nervous system when you dip your body in cold ice. But, from the second minute, your muscles start getting numb and it will become much easier.
Just keep in mind, as a boxer, you’re not taking ice baths to break the world record. Get start with a smaller duration that you’re comfortable with and work your way up.
When Should You Take an Ice Bath?
You should take ice baths after highly-intensive workout sessions. Lowering your body temperature, especially after strength training helps your body to recover fast by stimulating the central nervous system and reducing any fatigue.
Does an Ice Bath Burn Fats?
Taking an ice bath is not going to burn fats, in fact, it lowers your body temperature and slows down the metabolism process. Even though ice bath works incredibly well to manage inflammation but when things come to burning fats, it has little to no impact.
Popular authors like Tim Ferris popularise the idea of “Ice Baths for Fat Burn” but you need to understand, when you do any sort of exercise, you’re essentially putting pressure on your muscles which leads to the rise of your body temperature and sweating.
When you sit in a tub full of ice, you’re doing the exact opposite. Ice bath has its own benefits but you can’t discount it for your fat-burning exercises.
What Are the Alternatives to Ice Bath for Boxers?
Here I mentioned two alternatives: The first one if you want faster results than ice baths OR you can go with the second alternative if you’re just a beginner and can’t imagine yourself setting in an ice tub:
At first glance, cryotherapy seems to be almost similar to ice baths and it’s definitely could a potential alternative for you but there are a few fundamental differences that set it apart:
An ice bath could only cool you down to 10 degrees Celcius but cryotherapy can lower the air temperature far below it. Also, you need to stay in the ice tub for at least 15 minutes to get the most out of it, but cryotherapy can do the same in 2-3 minutes.
Another major benefit that cryotherapy offers is, it can be applied to the specific parts of your body to target various muscles groups at a time.
If you can’t withstand the idea of “Going and Sitting into the Tub full of Ice”, definitely you can take cold water showers as a quick alternative.
Even though it won’t offer you the same intensive experience but do gives you time to focus and de-stress your hectic training schedule. The primary benefit of taking a cold shower is, it pleases your mental health and boosts your self-confidence to the next level.
Are Ice Bath Good for You?
As a whole, ice baths are great for the post-workout healing process. It not only help you to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation but also affects your mental health in a very positive way.
I also mentioned a few of the alternatives out there for ice baths. BUT: I still recommend athletes for taking ice baths because why do you want to spend money on something like cryotherapy if you can get the same output just by spending a few extra minutes. 🙂
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