1. Rapid Recovery after Intense Training
Training hard creates an inflammatory response that leads to muscle growth. When you take a cold shower or submerge yourself in the Ice Barrel, blood gets directed toward your internal organs, cleansing the muscles of metabolites that could hinder recovery.
While training is a 'good' stressor on the body, it's best to avoid using ice packs or cold therapy within the first-hour post-exercise, to avoid blunting this initial reaction. But you can trigger an immune response that reduces that discomfort if you do an ice bath or whole-body cryotherapy treatments 24 to 72 hours post-exercise.
2. Improved Mental Health and Stress Reduction
Numerous studies point to ice baths and cold therapy as treatment interventions for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD. There's also anecdotal evidence suggesting cold exposure treatments, like finishing your shower with a cold blast or taking a cold plunge, significantly enhance mood.
Speaking from experience, the level of present-minded focus necessary to maintain your breath and awareness while experiencing the cold temperatures of an ice bath is unparalleled.
The proposed explanation is that exposure to cold water temperatures induces a dump of norepinephrine into the bloodstream. Norepinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in focus, attention, and mood — low norepinephrine can lead to ADHD and depression.
5. Promising Role in Longevity
We don’t have much research that connects cold therapy to increased longevity yet, but the science in this area is still evolving. Incorporating Ice Barrel cold therapy sessions into your daily routine and training regimen can keep you focused and disciplined. Longevity, after all, is about the collective effects that your lifestyle choices have on your overall well-being.