Battling sub-zero temperatures, numb appendages, and your brain screaming at you to get out… why would anyone take an ice bath? According to Dr. Johnathan Leary—the first and only Concierge Wellness Doctor whose mission is to bring the same care he gave to Olympians and professional athletes to the average person– noted that ice baths are a cheap way to do Cryo, and, according to him, are more difficult to get through. The biggest hurdle? Your mind.
Fitness experts have long exalted the benefits of deep-freezing your muscles. Ice baths in particular offer a range of benefits:, ice cold water offers an incredible endorphin rush, giving you a jolt of energy; they wake you up if you’re having a tough time adjusting to a new time zone; they also super-power your metabolism, kicking it into high gear to raise your body temperature which has just been thrust into an arctic pool. Lastly, for anyone coming off a flight or particularly tough workout, ice baths are a great way to calm inflammation and speed up recovery.
Even with all these benefits, Dr. Leary insists the best part of an ice bath is actually mental. “You’ll feel better and you’ll get all these benefits but it takes mental strength versus physical strength to get through an ice bath—that accomplishment and getting past your own hang-ups will be more rewarding to get through. You’ll notice a difference, and you’ll feel the effects far more in an ice bath than Cryo.”
To make your ice bath, buy three 10lb bags of ice. Fill your tub halfway with cold water and add ice, topping off with more water if necessary. Sit in the ice bath for no more than 6-8 minutes, but try to reach at least the six-minute mark. If you have any heart problems, do not try this.
Here are some tips on how to get through an ice bath:
TRY A BREATHING EXERCISE.
You might feel a little stressed at first, so try a breathing exercise to take your mind off of it. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of “three.” Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Keep repeating until your timer goes off.
HAVE A MOTIVATOR WITH YOU.
Let’s be real, nothing makes time move slower than watching the slow ticking of a stopwatch by yourself. Do an ice bath challenge with a friend and have them distract you while you take the plunge.
HAVE A ROBE READY FOR WHEN YOU GET OUT.
Be prepared. What you don’t want to happen post-freeze is to jump out of the tub, feeling victorious, only to scramble to find a towel.
As Dr. Leary says, if you can get through an ice bath, you should be proud of yourself. Your brain (and body) just did something extraordinary.