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Ice baths, cold showers, and cryotherapy provide quick fix to sore athletes

Viral TikTok trend promotes healthy lifestyle
Olavi Anttila
Ice bathing has become a new trend among athletes to help rid soreness. This can be done in many ways, even through a dip in an icy lake!

After an arduous long week of tennis practices, runs, and games, Junior Jacob Pimentel is persuaded to get his feet wet with a quick ice bath to help relieve his soreness. As a newcomer to the ice bath game, Pimentel chooses to experience the whole recommended time. 

Why would Pimentel choose an ice bath over a few simple ibuprofen pills? Ice baths hold numerous benefits for busy athletes and have become more popular in the last two years.

From November to December 2022 the trend of ice bathing surged by nearly 100%. In January, it rose another 68%. A lot of questions rapidly arose from this: What makes it popular? Surprisingly the popular Chinese social media app found on many of our phones, TikTok, sparked the growth in ice baths – making it a trend. 

An ice bath is exactly as it sounds – a “polar bear plunge” into freezing water and endeavoring to remain there for a few minutes. Ice baths fall under the umbrella of cold water therapy. They are filled with freezing water that’s as cold as 50 to 59 degrees. The cold temperature is used to reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as provide many more natural health benefits, depending on your form of ice bath.

Despite being called an ice bath, the therapy can be in the form of cold showers, freezing plunges, Cryopods, or again baths. However, there are distinctions in the health benefits between them. For instance, because a cold shower isn’t a complete immersion into the water you’re missing a process called hydrostatic pressure

Cold Showers are an easy way to get into cold water therapy and are extremely affordable and accessible. The convenience of it is unmatched compared to the other options. Simply, crank your cold shower to the coldest option it’s capable of. Carley Millhone, a journalist, recommends that if you’re new to cold water therapy, start with 30 seconds under the coldest setting at the end of your shower. From there you can build off to the optimal time of 5-15 minutes.

Pool plunges are another convenient way to get into cold water therapy if you or someone you know owns a pool. Even though you can’t easily control the temperature, it only works on cold days. On TikTok, it is known as the Polar Bear Plunge and is completed during wintertime. Participants in this trend toss themselves to the nearest wintry pool or ocean (any body of water that is swimmable,) and leap in. 

Cryotherapy is the most advanced version of cold water therapy we currently have. Cryotherapy typically involves staying in what’s known as a cryopod or cryobooth for 3-5 minutes. The temperature can go down to -140℃ but most are recommended to start with no colder than -110℃. It’s strongly suggested to talk to a doctor before going to this method as it is on the extremity of the cold scale. 

5 types of cryotherapy (Meilani Gilmore Young)

One popular method known as the Wim Hof method is an ideology that endorses not only cold therapy but also breathwork and commitment. (As stated on their purpose statement on the website.) Wim Hof a “Dutch Motivational Speaker” who gained infamy for breaking numerous cold water Guinness Book of World records by using his own “method.” He calls the basics of his methods “pillars” and separates them into three categories: breathing, cold therapy, and commitment. An article by Webmd claims Wim Hof’s method has no scientific proof for most of its so-called benefits and claims. They found studies that verify the validity of Wim Hof’s unnatural aptitude for extreme temperatures but not so much that his method has the same effect on the average person. 

Ice baths provide a mentally challenging but very beneficial recovery for athletes. The science behind it is proven and undoubted. The only thing that stops you from getting into cold therapy is yourself. 

Tyler Maxey, ’25, goes into his pool in the winter everyday for five minutes. He talked about how this therapy affects him both long and short term throughout the day.

“I’m able to concentrate. I feel so much more energized in the long term,” Maxey said. “I can go outside right now and not really feel cold and just kind of walk around.”

Anyone can start cold therapy at any level, the only limitation is yourself.

To read more from the Feather visit [Podcast] FC EagleCast, Episode No. 3 – Brian Butler or Boys tennis plans to repeat CIF title.

For more on opinions visit Column: Israel-Hamas conflict unpacked.

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About the Contributors
Ian Palsgaard
Ian Palsgaard, Journalist
Ian Palsgaard is a Junior who reports for The Feather online. He is the captain of the Fresno Christian Cross country team who aims to run in college. Ian believes talent is meaningless without hard work. He is looking forward to all the connections he can make well being a part of The Feathers team. On Most days after school, you can find him at Kuppa Joy enjoying a game of chess. 

Meilani Gilmore Young
Meilani Gilmore Young is a senior at Fresno Christian Schools and the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Feather Online. She is an avid reader, movie enthusiast, and music fanatic. When she’s not leading the Track and Field team she is planning her next adventure or mapping out her next meal. In the future, Gilmore Young hopes to pursue a career in history and study film. 
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    Caleb I.Feb 16, 2024 at 8:35 pm

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