An ice bath is a very potent relaxing exercise. An ice bath is one of the easiest and quickest ways to soothe pains. And players used it both during and in between matches.
Cricket is a highly competitive sport, and players have to play out of their skin to win matches or even compete. Hence, it's no surprise cricket can be very exhausting both mentally and physically. That's why fitness is of the utmost importance for modern players. But being fit alone cannot give the most optimum results because regardless of the shape, the human body is not a machine so players will get tired eventually.
Take the example of a test match being played in India on a 45-degree summer day; imagine what kind of effect a whole day of fielding in that summer heat will have on the bowling team players. Thus, proper relaxing techniques are employed so the player's body can recover quickly and correctly even after the most exhausting of games. One of the most common soothing methods used around the globe is the ice bath.
But what makes ice baths so unique, and why are they so widely used? We have tried to answer some similar questions in this piece. So, dive in and learn all about Ice baths and why cricketers and players should use it.
What is an ice bath?
Ice bath, also known as cold-water immersion and cold therapy, is a type of cryotherapy. As the name suggests, it requires sitting or standing in a tub or bucket full of chilly but not freezing water for 10 to 15 minutes.
The experience of sitting in cold water is not pleasant. On the other contrary, it can be very uncomfortable. It can even take the breath away, incredibly initially, but things get usual with time. Moreover, some things should be considered while preparing for an ice bath. Here are a few of them.
Tips for the ice bath
The following things should be taken into consideration before submerging the body into ice.
The water temperature should be between 50 to 59-degree Fahrenheit or 10 to 15-degree Celsius, not more than that. There is no benefit of using even colder water.
2. Timing of ice bath
The timing of the ice bath matters a lot for the best results. It is believed that the best time for taking an ice bath is right after an exhausting exercise or game; waiting is not good.
3. Duration of the ice bath
The water time matters a lot as long periods of ice bath can do more harm than good. Thus, it is mandatory to limit the duration of the ice bath from 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Amount of body exposed
Usually, it is advised to immerse the whole body into the water to gain the best effects. That said, it may not be possible to expose the entire body at first. So it is best to start with the feet and lower legs and see how it goes from there.
There were some of the things that should be kept in mind while preparing for an ice bath. Now, it's time to understand why an ice bath is so important for cricketers and players. In other words, what are its advantages?
Benefits of the ice bath
As previously discussed, an ice bath is one of the easiest and quickest ways for reducing inflammation, and pain, and speed up recovery. That's not all; an ice bath has various other benefits too. Let's discuss them one by one:
#1. Relieves muscle pain and soreness
This is one of the best things about ice baths, as cold immersion can relieve burning muscles. Overall, an ice bath is a potent cure to reduce muscle pain and soreness in the body.
#2. Reduces the inflammation
Several studies suggest that lowering the temperature after an exhausting exercise session limits the inflammatory response, which, in return, decreases the inflammation amount. Hence, an ice bath helps in faster recovery.
#3. Helps to perform better
An ice bath can improve cricketers' performance as it can help the human nervous system by aiding in sleeping. Better sleep means less fatigue. Besides, it can enhance reaction time significantly.
#4. Trains vagus nerve
The Vagus nerve is linked with the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Training the vagus nerve can help players to perform well under stressful conditions. You might find it surprising, but the ice bath is an effective way of teaching the vagus nerve.
An ice bath may have advantages, but it can lead to severe problems like hypothermia on the flip side. It can even cause sudden death by shock, so all is not good with an ice bath. Hence, extra caution should be taken with it. We have dedicated the next section to the risk associated with an ice bath.
Things to keep in mind about the ice bath
Without a doubt, the ice bath has benefits. However, the internal physical processes of how ice bath speeds up recovery remain elusive. Moreover, several studies indicate various pros of the ice bath, like reducing muscle damage and pain.
At the same time, other studies suggest that the ice bath may slow muscle growth. Thus, the following things should be kept in mind about the ice bath:
- Longer ice bath sessions can cause hypothermia, when the human body loses heat faster than it can produce, risking dangerously low body temperature.
- The ice bath can slow down blood flow as ice can decrease the body's core temperature and tighten blood vessels. If blood flow is reduced to dangerous levels, it can cause cardiac attacks or stroke.
- Ice baths can have adverse effects on people suffering from high blood pressure, asthma and type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so they should be extra careful with ice baths.
The ice bath can have some serious disadvantages, but the advantages easily exceed the disadvantages if proper attention is paid. What's more, an ice bath doesn't cost a fortune and can be used by anyone.
The ice bath is not only for the rich
You heard it right, no matter how it sounds, but the ice bath is not an expensive relaxing exercise. It is among the cheap ones, which can be done at home. Whether playing international, national, state, or even district-level cricket, any player can use it. He/she needs some chilly water and a bucket or a tub, more and more reasons to employ an ice bath as a recovery exercise.
We all know how challenging and exhausting cricket can get at times. It is exhausting most of the time since modern players don't know how to take a step backwards.
Current players want the best cricket bats, the best batting gloves, and the best everything. They are so competitive that they will throw their bodies around while fielding even for stopping a single run; the same goes for batting and bowling.
So, focusing more on proper recovery techniques and fitness became a necessity to get the best results, and that's what we got. Relaxing practices like ice baths became a vital part of the game considering their benefits, including quick recovery, and lowering muscle pain, and inflammation after a match.
However, at the same time, there were disadvantages too of an ice bath. But when performed in a controlled environment, the pros outweighed the cons.
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