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Health news and blog

    Wellness and preventative medicine

    When you should do an ice bath

    Woman in an ice bath

    When the weather gets warmer, many people look to cool off in different ways.

    Believe it or not though, there are some benefits to dunking yourself in cold water and there are a lot of ways to go about it too.

    You can fill an outdoor tub with cold water and lots of ice, do the same thing with your bathtub indoors, take a cold shower, or even go somewhere that offers cryotherapy.

    In fact, a patient of Dr. Jake Veigel who’s in his 70s now does an ice bath almost every day after asking him for advice on how and when to do it.

    Dr. Veigel is a Lifestyle and Sports Medicine provider at the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Center in Salt Lake City.

    When’s the best time to do an ice bath?

    He said ice baths and other forms of cold-water immersion after regular or intense exercise can ease some muscle soreness.

    “Doing it consistently after exercise is what we have the best evidence for, in that it helps with delayed onset muscle soreness,” said Dr. Veigel.

    There are some trades offs you should be aware of though.

    Dr. Veigel said that ice baths can impact how fast your muscles grow and how strong they become.

    The sports medicine provider for Intermountain Health said, “If it's offseason and you really want to build strength and power, then maybe doing a cold-water immersion might prevent that. I don’t mean to say that you’re not going to get any gains, it’s just that it isn’t the same as when you don’t do the cold-water immersion.”

    How cold does the water need to be?

    Some of the studies Dr. Veigel has read about ice baths say the water needs to be at 57 degrees Fahrenheit and you should stay in the ice bath for about an hour.

    “You don't have to have the water at 35 degrees for you to feel the benefits. You can have 50 to 60 and you'll still be uncomfortable, and I don't think you need to stay in there for an hour. If you really wanted to see some sort of benefit, you could probably just do a cold shower,” said Dr. Veigel.

    Who should be doing an ice bath?

    The sports medicine provider said he thinks it’s safe for most people, but it’s best to talk with your doctor beforehand so they can make sure it doesn’t affect any conditions you have.

    It’s also important to think about whether freezing your butt off is a priority for your overall health and wellness.

    “If you aren't already exercising consistently, eating well, getting good sleep and really taking into account all these other factors of good healthy lifestyle behaviors, then sitting in a cold bath for an hour is the least important thing of all those,” said Dr. Veigel.

    If you’re curious, Dr. Veigel recommends trying it more than once to see how you feel. He says one of his patients hated it the first time, but he noticed he felt good afterwards and decided to try again and now he does it almost daily.

    Providers at Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Centers can help you in a lot of different ways. Find one at your closest center to learn how they can help you live a happier and healthier life.

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    Woman in sauna on left and woman in ice bath on right

    Health & Wellness Webinar: Saunas and Cold Plunges

    Sitting in a hot room or dunking yourself in cold water may sound like a nightmare, but both are thought to benefit your health. Dr. Jake Veigel, a Sports and Lifestyle Medicine Provider, breaks down the benefits and drawbacks.

    Sign up for the webinar