It’s not every day — or ever — that I take an icy bath. I’m like a lizard in which I’m constantly cold and can often be found lying in the sun and / or looking for warm places to rest. ) to make sure I’m not freezing. But rarely voluntarily Look to put myself in icy situations.
However, I am a wounded lizard. I recently tore my ACL and MCL on a ski trip and have been battling inflammation and muscle aches since January. I spread to chronic back pain and ache, and I’m always looking for different ways to treat my own discomfort.
So when I was offered the opportunity to try the Ice Barrel Cold Plunge Tub ($ 1,200), a training tool for cold treatment at home, I could not help but try it. Did it sound absolutely torturous? Yes, 100 percent. But could it help alleviate my aches and pains? I wanted to know.
The ice is hot — here’s why
While cold baths are the hot “new” trend, they are not exactly new. A quick Google search will show you that spa and healing baths (both hot and cold) have existed since the time of the ancient Greeks, who relied on water to cure everything from muscle aches to skin conditions.
What has become mainstream recently is the Wim Hof method. Named “The Iceman” for its unique ability to immerse itself in polar rays for a long time, Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete who combined breathing work, cold exposure therapy and mental endurance to create the Wim Hof method. , which has been linked to various health and wellness benefits.
Andri Einarrson, a certified Wim Hof trainer, leads the experience of cold water therapy on the Flash Pack adventure travel company Unknown Iceland. He explains that treatment with cold exposure results in controlling your stress response, which helps your body and brain in different ways.
“There are many mental and physical benefits to exposure to the cold,” explains Einarsson. “For example, the cold reduces inflammation, swelling and muscle pain. It is also associated with improved sleep quality, more focus, and even an improved immune response. Participants have reported health benefits ranging from higher energy levels to relief from the symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases “.
Another Google search confirms Einarsson’s claims — many people swear by exposure to the cold in their recovery routines. Scroll to blog after blog praising icy therapy for its magical ability to heal everything from physical ailments like torn ACLs like mine to more diverse issues like stress and depression. (Although for any chronic pain or mental health problems, it is always best to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for advice.)
Kari Lansing, MS, CTSC, Sports Coach and Strength Coach at Lake Placid, New York, explains that other suggested benefits include an iincreased circulation to your nucleus and vital organs (as you reduce blood flow to the extremities), ttemporary and small increase in metabolic rate and increased immunity. But the cold treatment – either in an ice barrel or in a regular bath – is not infallible.
“Despite the plethora of research on the subject, the underlying mechanisms for its ability to improve recovery and health are not yet fully understood,” he says. “It takes a lot more research to connect the subjective,” he said touch better reactions to objective laboratory results that explain why people feel better. ”
Ice Barrel Review: An easy way to “relax”.
The jury did ice swimming and I had to find out for myself, so I ordered my own cold dip. While I waited for my insulated pickle barrel to arrive, I asked for tips on how beginners with an ice bath could prepare for their experiences. Both Einarrson and Lansing recommend relaxing in ice baths with cold showers and ice-free baths.
“Gradual exposure to the cold and listening to the body, never stress, is the way to build cold tolerance until you are ready to try an ice bath,” Einarsson said. “What you can do is put cold water (without ice) in your barrel and see if you can be as relaxed as if it were hot water. If not, continue with a cold shower until you can enter the barrel with complete relaxation. “
The work of breathing is also important, as long inhalations and steady exhalations help connect the body and mind to help relieve stress. And, of course, consistency. “Gradually make the water a little colder every day. “It will help you adjust and tolerate lower temperatures and it will basically make you hate it less, giving yourself more chances to stick to it,” Lansing suggested.Be consistent in doing it every day to build tolerance at lower temperatures faster.
A few weeks (and cold showers) later, and a huge cardboard box arrives on my doorstep.
My first observation was how simple it was to set up the bathtub. Warn it comes in a big, intimidating box, so do you I think so It will take some time to adjust, but it is just the opposite. Available in four simple pieces: the barrel itself, a base, a stool and a lid. Everything is made of the same lightweight plastic, so if you are alone like I was, it is easy to pick it up and move around. In total, the adjustment took five minutes.
The filling is a different story — it is a standard 55-gallon drum that can hold up to 105 gallons of water, so it took a minute to prepare it for bathing. Tip: make sure you have your own barrel exactly where you want it to be when you fill it. Once filled, it does not move until you drain it.
As soon as I filled it a little above the waist with water, I realized that I was missing one key ingredient: ice. Now, you do not need ice. But I was prepared and I wanted the full experience. Luquickly, my deck was covered in snow, so I cut the tire and started shoveling piles of snow into the barrel and mixing it into a nice, cold pulp. As soon as it filled a little higher, I grabbed the beach towel and went inside. (You can also make ice from your freezer or buy ice from the store.)
Full transparency: The first time I got into this thing I almost vomited. No amount of cold shower can prepare you to climb and immerse yourself in 30 degree water, it is So jarring. I knelt trembling for a few seconds (with my boyfriend filming me and laughing at me all the time, remember) until I slowly lowered the rest of my body into the icy cold. It was … miserable. I think I lasted 45 seconds? At least that’s what the video says, because I’m sure I got out of the dive.
Looking back, the snow was probably too much for me. “The benefits start when the water temperature is 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit … The recommended time in cold water is 11-15 minutes.” said Lansing. I could have warmed it up a bit, but 11-15 minutes ?! I could barely stand 30 seconds. I decided that my goal for the two weeks was a reasonable five minutes. It turned out to be easier than expected to achieve. Here is the calendar for the first week:
- Day 2: Almost the same results as Day 1. It lasted about the same time. Sigh.
- Day 3: I forced myself to stay in for 1.5 minutes. My hands wound– like this dull, icy pain you feel when you are very cold. Does my skin burn? But I went out and noticed that my joints were looser.
- Day 4: It took another 1.5 minutes. The bones still hurt in the bathtub, but I feel very nice out of the bathtub.
- Day 5: Reached 2.5 minutes! I added a little breathing work and changed my tiny shorts with wool base layers. It made my skin hurt less and helped me a lot to distract myself from the fact that I felt like an ice cube.
- Day 6: Four minutes. You have noticed that the “freezing pain” tends to subside after about 2 minutes, especially if you are wearing base layers. Once you get over it, is it really a bit peaceful?
- Day 7: Five minutes baby. We are the Wim Hof-ing!
Einarsson and Lansing were right – working with the breath is half the battle. Concentrating on a deep, steady breathing pattern distracts you from the cold. It’s like yoga or meditation where this extreme focus draws attention from the sensory stimulation (in this case, the freeze.) As soon as I was able to get into the “zone”, I felt almost – dare I say it – relaxed.
May confirm – your body will love, or may, love a barrel of ice (or at least, I liked it)
The second week was very different from the first week, and while I was never in the 11-15 minute range, I understand how other people do. Ice bathing * can * be relaxing (when you train up to 30 degrees in water, of course.) Me too. He made feel better, at least physically. Although I did not notice any difference in the levels of anxiety or depression, my muscles felt great. My knees felt looser and less angry than they had all winter, especially on days when I could stand three minutes or more.
After testing the Ice Barrel for two weeks, I think it is a great tool for anyone trying to get into cold exposure therapy. Apart from the heavy price, it is incredibly convenient. And once set, it adjusts — the combination of barrel and lid with insulation (and recycled plastic!) Keeps the water cool and free of debris, so you can climb whenever you want. When it becomes a little funky (usually about four weeks after the initial filling), simply disconnect the drain and dry it to refill with clean water.
One disadvantage is its size: It is large and takes up a lot of space. Fortunately, I had a deck where I could run and drain it, no problem. But if you live in a small space or an apartment, it may not make sense for your lifestyle. However, if you have space and you are an athlete or recovering from an injury, it may be worth the money. That $ 1,200 goes a looong way in terms of simplicity and convenience. Just write down your fitness (and recovery) goals. before you buy:
“For those trying to build muscle mass or strength, using cold water immersion seems to diminish the benefits of strength training when used after a strength workout,” says Lansing. “However, in endurance-based athletes, such as cyclists and runners, it seems to reduce the perception of delayed onset of muscle pain compared to either no intervention or rest alone. And, you know, you might not fill it with snow the first time you go inside.
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