The Benefits of Ice Baths for Muay Thai
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Ice baths are something that we are begging to see more and more of on social media as Muay Thai fighters begin to add them into their routine. In this article we'll be delving into all the benefits of Ice baths for Muay Thai.
An ice bath is exactly what you would think it is, it is a bath or a tub filled with cold water and ice into which someone climbs and rests for an amount of time. Ice baths are said to help with inflammation, muscle soreness and overall recovery.
The three main benefits of ice baths for Muay Thai fighters are reduced inflammation, reduced muscle pain and improved recovery time.
Why do fighters get in ice baths?
Ice baths are unpleasant and can even be painful. The sudden exposure to ice cold temperatures can force oxygen out of your body, which can leave you feeling winded and short of breath when you first get into the bath. You'll often feel pain in your hands and feet due to the cold. Due to these effects, your probably thinking why do fighters get in ice baths?
Fighters get ice baths to help them with their recovery from their intense training. Ice baths work by cooling the skin, muscles and core temperatures. This leads to constriction of the blood vessels slowing or blocking the flow of blood which may decrease swelling and acute inflammation muscle damage.
The benefits of ice baths vastly outweigh the short term negatives that you'll suffer from during the ice bath, which is why fighters get ice baths. Ice baths allow fighters to recover quicker, meaning that they can train at their peak each and every session.
Things to consider before using an ice bath
Before you jump into your first ice bath, there are some things that you should consider. Firstly you should think about the risks of an ice bath and if they are suitable for you, and also how you should actually take an ice bath.
The main risks of taking an ice bath are:
Heart Attacks: If you are someone that suffers from underlying heart conditions then you should probably avoid ice baths. The cold water slows the blood flow around the body which can increase the risk of heart attack or a stroke.
Tissue Damage: If your in an ice bath for too long, it can lead to damaging soft tissue, similar to the effects of frostbite.
Fainting: Due to the cold water slowing your blood flow, you will have less blood flowing to your spine and brain. This can cause drowsiness, blurred vision and fainting.
It's recommended that your ice baths should last around 15-minutes for the maximum benefits. You may be thinking that this seems a long time to be ice cold, and for the first few times it probably will be too long for you. Slowly build up your resistance with each and every ice bath that you take and before you know it 15-minutes will be a breeze. Sitting for longer than 15-minutes in an ice bath can increase your risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
We always recommend doing an ice bath with another person present to ensure your safety.
How often should you get an ice bath?
For the maximum benefits from an ice bath, you should be getting one every day after your main training session. This will allow your body to fully recover after your hard training to ensure that your ready for the next day's training.
Ice baths should be a key component of your recovery schedule and they should be deployed during periods of high intensity training. Slow down on the ice baths outside of your fight camp and during the tough closing weeks of your fight camp. We recommend increasing them to daily in the last 5-6 weeks of your fight camp to ensure maximum recovery from your Muay Thai training.
It is important to know that the more a person takes an ice bath, the less of a beneficial impact from each bath.
Frequently asked questions
Does a cold shower have the same benefits as an ice bath?
Cold showers do not have the same benefits as an ice bath. Taking an ice bath will make you feel less sore than a cold shower due to the lower temperatures. Ice baths can also help to increase mental toughness more than cold showers which can help tremendously in a fight camp.
Should you ice bath before a fight?
Ice baths can be a great way to help you seek mental clarity before a fight to ensure that your mind is focused on the task ahead.
Do ice baths hurt?
Due to your core temperature dropping you may experience some pain when taking an ice bath. The pain you'll experience is due to your blood vessels constricting and a decreased blood flow.
Does an ice bath burn fat?
Ice baths can be used to burn fat. Ice baths and cold showers can activate the brown adipose fat and muscles. Once activated, they release two hormones: irisin and FGF21. These hormones then burn white fat tissue and help you lose weight.