8 Benefits of Ice Baths You Might Not Know – Byrdie

8 Benefits of Ice Baths You Might Not Know – Byrdie

While the concept of a post-workout polar plunge might not be appealing to everyone, an ice bath can be a game-changing post-workout recovery tool that anyone can take advantage of. “Plunging a single limb—or the whole body—into a tub of cold water for 10-15 minutes, is becoming an increasingly popular ritual for athletes as well as hardcore exercisers,” Elizabeth Gardner, MD, Yale Medicine sports medicine doctor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Yale School of Medicine, tells Byrdie

Ice baths, also referred to as cold water immersion or cold hydrotherapy, are a form of cryotherapy but not nearly as extreme. While cryotherapy treatments involve exposure to temperatures below negative 200, ice baths aren’t quite as arctic. Gardner explains that the recommended water temperature for an ice bath is actually 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit—still cold enough to chill out your body, but not literally to the point of freezing. 

When Should You Take An Ice Bath?

Before you hop in an ice bath, keep in mind that timing is crucial. So, when is the best time to immerse yourself in cold water?  “Right after your workout,” Bowen maintains, “This is when your muscles are screaming to get cooled, and the healing can happen. If you wait too long, the process has already started.”

How Long Should You Stay In? 

Gardner warns not to stay in an ice bath too long, or you should experience the potential downsides. “It is important to not stay in the ice bath for more than 15 minutes due to the risk of hypothermia and frostbite,” she warns, “If you notice that your skin is changing colors, then it is important to get out.”


While many professional athletes, bodybuilders, and physical fitness aficionados support ice baths as an effective recovery tool, “the hard evidence is mixed,” Gardner admits. However, she does maintain that there are several potential benefits of ice bath treatment.

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