Ice Baths & Cold Showers?

  • Creator
  • #20360

    I’m wondering what the benefits are from cold therapy using cold showers and ice baths? Apparently there’s a whole subculture focused around techniques by Wim Hof, who climbed Everest wearing shorts. It uses a combination of breathing techniques and cold therapy to provide all sorts of health benefits, apparently. Ross Edgley also talks about it in his book “The World’s Fittest Book”. more info on the technique here:

    I saw a post elsewhere from someone who summitted Everest and praised how useful this technique was to his success.


  • Participant
    rob3sixt on #20372

    All I can say from is from my own experience:

    I starting training with Up Hill about a month ago, even before I loved my ice baths or plunging into a cold river. There is a method to my own madness with it.

    1. I enjoyed using my sauna and then getting into an ice cold shower or ice bath. The benefits I saw were: less fatigue after workouts, less to no muscle soreness, better mental activity,

    2. Ice bath ASAP after workouts helped in the same way listed above.

    3. Taking reusable ice packs with a cooler to the gym after a really hard work out, like a finger board work out or hard bouldering session. I do a 3-5 minute ice/water bath for my fingers and or elbows.

    Hope you find this helpful in some way.


    Anonymous on #20383

    It depends on your short-term priority. From what I’ve read, cryotherapy does speed recovery, but it also reduces the aerobic stimulus from workouts. So in training, when the stimulus is the priority, I never use ice baths. During multi-day races, when recovery is the priority, I always do.

    As far as “the Wim Hof Method” being a magic bullet to enhanced performance, I doubt it. It seems like just another salesy, too-good-to-be-true attempt to play on our natural hope for a winning lottery ticket while selling something on the side.

    Anonymous on #20398

    Cold therapy reduces inflammation so speeds recovery. Same with the contrast of sauna and cold.

    The issue that several recent studies have shown is that inflammation is a significant stimulus to aerobic adaptations. So, sS Scott Semple says above, there is a trade off between speeding recovery with cold therapy and maximizing the benefits of the training session. I have trained Olympians who purposely eschew ice baths for this reason. They use them after only especially tough workouts.

    My recommendation is to save the ice baths for when your legs are trashed from an over reaching workout, but abstain from them on normal days when the training load is not super high.

    As for Wim Hoff, I have no direct experience with his methods. But I do work with some of the fittest mountain athletes in the world and NONE of them use now or every have used these methods and I suspect most of them could run or climb or ski circles around Mr Hoff.


    jones on #20483

    @scott So, for those workouts when you’ve messed up and gone WAY above AeT for FAR too long and trashed your legs (asking for a friend):

    How long should you spend in the ice bath on average? Repeats, or is once enough?


    Anonymous on #20506

    I’m not sure there is one accepted protocol for immersion time. I and others how I kow that have used ice (cold mountain streams) baths tend to keep the time pretty short due to the pain. 2-5 min seems to really do the trick. If you are real glutton you might do second dip after warming up for a few minutes. Doing this immediately at the end of a long run in the creek next to the parking lot before you drive home seems to pay the biggest dividends in terms of recovery rather than waiting for a hour or more.


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