Ice baths may be a rising trend in sports today, but it’s actually a centuries-old tradition used for healing.
Cold exposure improves breathing, speeds up healing, and reduces cramps and soreness in muscles. And that makes it a highlight for athletes and fitness enthusiasts today.
In an exhaustive sport like soccer, experts often look for ways to prevent injuries. They speed up the healing process for muscles.
And to understand it well, let’s split the growth and development of muscles into two phases.
The first phase is training the muscle and taking in the right nutrition for its growth. And the second phase is the rest and recovery.
Now, an athlete can only work out his muscles to the extent that he can recover for the next training.
If your muscles can’t recover for the next workout in time, you step into a cycle of overworking your muscles, and they start to degenerate.
Also, it makes you prone to injuries as you’re not fully recovered ahead of your next workout. And that’s exactly where ice baths come in!
They boost your immunity, improve breathing, and speed up the recovery process for your muscles. Ice baths allow soccer players to exert more rigorously in training and grow faster than their normal cycle.
Why Do Soccer Players Take Ice Baths?
Soccer players have a demanding schedule. They have 2-3 fixtures every week and tiring training sessions in between.
For working out their muscles at such a rate, they also need an adequate recovery mechanism.
Since our muscles can only recover at a steady rate on their own, soccer players turn to ice baths for a speedy recovery to match their high-intensity exercises.
But recovering quickly isn’t the only reason why the trend of ice baths is soaring across the soccer universe.
Here are some other reasons why coaches and players encourage ice baths as a routine training and recovery ritual for soccer!
Prevents Muscle Soreness
Sore muscles are often considered the first sign of a good workout. But that view quickly changes when you have to deal with it every day like a soccer player.
And ice baths are the perfect remedy for post-workout muscle soreness. They prevent lactic acid buildup in places with broken muscle fibers.
Moreover, water’s cold temperature may also numb the muscles’ pain sensation. And this allows players to push more than they’re used to in training without dealing with cramps later on.
Helps Improve Sleep
Cold showers are also the best transition into sleep mode, which is again a necessary part of muscle recovery and growth.
Hopping into a tub of iced water after a demanding workout stiffens your muscles. It cools down the burning muscles and numbs you to the various pains you might be feeling.
After you’re done with your ice bath, your body settles in a cozy temperature as the Melatonin levels spike in your body. And that puts you to sleep like a sweet melody!
Ice packs have long been used to reduce inflammation after an injury. The cold exposure slows down the blood circulation to the area it’s applied and prevents blood clotting up.
And ice baths are just a supersized version of the same concept!
However, inflammation is not always the result of an injury. Even routine workouts can cause muscle inflammation when overworked.
And since soccer players have to overwork in nearly every game, taking an ice bath becomes the perfect remedy to prevent inflammation that might lead to an injury.
When your core body temperature drops from an ice bath, your body starts to use up the brown adipose tissue for heat. This is the process that hibernating mammals survive during winters.
And to generate heat, your digestive system works faster than usual to keep your body temperature from dropping too low.
Soccer players benefit from this specifically as it further speeds up the recovery process for muscles. A faster metabolism means more energy reaching the muscles to rebuild and recover.
Easier to Exert in Heat and Humidity
Heat and humidity also tamper with our performance quite a lot. We can only perform our best when it comes to exercise and exertion up to a certain body temperature, which varies for everyone.
But if you’re playing in too hot or too humid conditions, your body will easily overheat as it crosses its optimum temperature.
However, having an ice bath before your fixture brings down your core body temperature by a couple of degrees. And that keeps you from crossing your max performance temperature even in hot and humid conditions.
Are Ice Baths Good for Soccer Players?
Soccer players take ice baths to be 100% match-fit before their fixtures.
Sure, recovery from a tough workout is a top contender too! But we’ll see why routine ice baths aren’t the best recovery option for soccer players.
Ice baths sure do help athletes with muscle soreness and recovery, but they promote the growth of the Type 1 muscle fibers, which are slow-twitch.
And that’s the exact opposite of what a soccer player needs!
Soccer players require explosive energy to sprint, jump, and turn in every match. So, taking ice baths too regularly will negatively affect a soccer player’s performance.
And that’s why ice baths are not recommended as a daily practice for a soccer player.
How Long Do Soccer Players Take an Ice Bath For?
Taking ice baths too frequently and for too long will acclimatize your body to the cold treatment. And when your body gets used to it, you don’t enjoy the same health benefits.
An ice bath shouldn’t last longer than 10-15 minutes for the best effects. And that too with a temperature between 50° F and 59° F.
But even these temperatures and durations can be unbearable for newcomers. In which case, you should always ease your way into it by starting with as little as a cold shower!
The trend of ice bathing is high and roaring in sports these days. Though there isn’t much scientific evidence, experts believe it is crucial for the recovery of elite athletes.
Most clubs and academies, even high school teams, have made way for ice baths besides their locker rooms.
But before you jump into it for leisure, it’s good to know what it does to your body beforehand. And as a soccer player, you must be very careful not to overdo it!
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!