Over the last few years, cold therapy like ice baths, cold plunges and cryotherapy have become increasingly popular among everyone — from athletes to wellness lovers. Cold therapy has several benefits beyond muscle recovery as well. As more and more people centre their lives around things like mindfulness, breathwork and meditation, the demand for pop-up ice baths has increased.
If this is the first you’re hearing about the latest trend, let us fill you in. Here’s everything you need to know about ice baths.
Table of contents
- What is an ice bath?
- What are the benefits of ice baths?
- How long and how often should you use an ice bath?
- Where can you buy pop-up ice baths in Australia?
- Are there any risks?
- The Best Pop-Up Ice Baths in Australia
What is an ice bath?
Ice baths, cold water immersion or cold hydrotherapy, are forms of cryotherapy where the use of low temperatures has medicinal and remedial benefits. Ice baths, in particular, are exactly what they sound like, a bath filled with cold water and ice that you sit in for several minutes. The recommended water temperature for an ice bath is around 10-15 degrees Celsius.
What are the benefits of ice baths?
You’ll often see cold therapy being used by athletes since they’re great for muscle recovery. Not only do the cool temperatures feel good for tense, tight muscles, but the rapid dilation of the blood vessels slows blood flow, relieves some of that inflammation and soreness, and delivers much-needed oxygen and nutrients to recovering muscles.
Mental health benefits
We’re pre-warning you, your first time jumping into an ice bath isn’t exactly going to be pleasant. However, once you learn to relax and focus on your breathing, the whole experience can become somewhat meditative. As for the physiological benefits of ice baths, the famous Wim Hof Method suggests that cold therapy helps increase parasympathetic activity in the body, which can positively affect mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and gut problems.
Resetting the nervous system
According to experts, exposing your body to cold conditions regularly can make you more resilient to stress. This is because as your body adjusts to the cold, the vagus nerve is stimulated, which is connected to many vital organs by means of the parasympathetic nervous system — and the parasympathetic nervous system controls the body’s response to stress. So basically, the more you can keep your vagus nerve stimulated, the better you’ll respond to things like stress and anxiety.
How long and how often should you use an ice bath?
While the Wim Hof Method enthusiasts would suggest daily cold showers or ice baths, weekly dips would suffice. If you’re new to cold therapy, a couple of minutes is an excellent place to start, and spend no more than 10 and 15 minutes in an ice bath to avoid hypothermia or frostbite. It’s also recommended that you have a towel and warm clothes on hand to get changed into post-plunge.
Where can you buy pop-up ice baths in Australia?
While traditional ice baths will set you back a couple of thousand dollars, more and more inflatable/pop-up ice baths are hitting the market. Here, we’ve rounded up a bunch you can shop right now.
Are there any risks?
You should always consult a health professional before trying an ice bath at home. People who have preexisting conditions like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes have higher risks of complications.
The Best Pop-Up Ice Baths in Australia
The Vitalice comes with everything you need to start those daily dips. It comes with a pop-up ice bath, eight freezer trays (equivalent to 10kgs), a hand pump, a bath thermometer, a protective cover and a carry bag. It takes all of three minutes to set up, and only a few more to pack down.
Then there’s this one from Nurecover that’s designed to be simple, yet effective. Think of it like a giant insulated cool bag that keeps your water cold. It also has a lid to keep out debris and bugs while not in use. It’s worth noting that this bad boy ships from the UK, so it might take a hot minute to arrive in Australia.
We’ve found this one from Recovery Project that’s portable, lightweight, durable and easy to assemble. It also fills up within 10 minutes and stands at about 750mm high, providing an optimal immersion depth for recovery.
If you’re keen to take the plunge on cold water therapy, NordicWay makes a good quality ice bath at an affordable price. The Portable Ice Bath comes with the bath itself, a pump, eight support pillars, a drainage hose and faucet and a patch repair kit. This particular one also comes with a hood, to help keep it insulated between dips.
The Easy Plunge is Ritual’s simplest ice bath (they only get bigger and fancier from here). It’s a pop-up ice bath that’s made from a sturdy, but lightweight material and can be set up within minutes. This super simple tub comes with everything you need including a matching inflatable lid, hand pump, cover and carry bag. All you have to do is add water and ice. Nice!
Image Credit: Ritual / Nurecover
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