arctic ice bathAn arctic ice bath, or cold water immersion, is a post-workout recovery technique that involves plunging your limbs into a tub of icy water for 10-15 minutes. It’s becoming increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts as a way to speed up recovery and alleviate muscle soreness and aches. But does it really work? Learn more:

Despite the popularity of ice baths among athletes and fitness enthusiasts, scientific evidence is slim on their effectiveness. In fact, multiple studies have shown that they might even hinder muscle growth—because when blood vessels constrict in response to a cold environment, they can actually decrease the oxygen supply to muscles and lead to a delayed recovery time.

From Freezing to Thriving: How Arctic Ice Baths Boost Your Health

On the other hand, some experts maintain that ice baths may help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and accelerate the body’s natural restoration processes. They do so by causing a sudden drop in your core temperature, which triggers the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine, hormones that stimulate the secretion of glucose from the liver. This in turn helps your muscles recover by lowering inflammation and preventing a buildup of lactic acid.

The best temperature for an ice bath is between 45-57 degrees Fahrenheit (0-15 degrees Celsius). It’s important to remember that you should only be submerged in the cold water for about 10 minutes, and never stay in the bath for more than 20 minutes. Besides being unsafe and potentially damaging your skin, staying in the cold for too long can also lead to hypothermia. If you begin to shiver or notice that your skin color has changed, it’s important to get out immediately.