There's a reason why athletes and longevity experts alike have embraced cold plunge therapy: the benefits could be far-reaching and scientifically supported.
Here are ten opportunities you should take advantage of.
Muscle soreness is relieved.
Andy Murray required a "emergency" ice bath following a grueling match at the 2020 US Open. Open. "My body hurts, and I need to recover as soon as possible," he said after the game to a reporter.
Cold water therapy, when combined with a cool-down exercise routine, can improve athletic performance by promoting recovery and enhancing sport-specific abilities after exercise.
Cold water immersion alone may reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and increase perceived recovery. In one study, subjects who were immersed in a cold bath reported significantly less muscle soreness 24 hours later. Ice baths can also reduce lactic acid levels, which is the fuel for your cells during intense exercise and the source of that burning sensation in your muscles afterward.
Cold plunging on a regular basis may have even greater recovery benefits. Cold plunges had long-term recovery benefits on fatigue, soreness, and wellness in highly trained volleyball players, according to one study published in 2020. The subjects had 10-minute sessions in 50-degree Fahrenheit water once a day for 12 days.
While researchers are still trying to figure out how cryotherapy improves mood, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has a theory: cold exposure releases dopamine, the "feel-good" hormone that improves mood, energy, and focus, as well as endorphins.
According to one study published in the journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, subjects who submerged their entire bodies, including their heads, in cold water after high-intensity, intermittent running exercise reduced limb movement and increased slow-wave sleep, which is thought to be the most restorative stage of sleep, the type of deep sleep where your body recovers.
This stage may also help your immune system, and there is some evidence that deep sleep can help with memory, creativity, and insightful thinking.
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