Ice Baths and Cold Shower: What’s Best After Exercise?

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Ice Baths and Cold Shower Whats Best After

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We’ve got a fun topic today. That’s right, we’re talking about cold water therapy in the form of ice baths and cold showers. 

What are the similarities? What are the differences? What are the pros and cons of each? And is one inherently better than the other? 

➡️ We’re going to find out about all that today, so stick around and find out.

What to Know About Cold Water Therapy

ice bath

Ice Baths and Cold Showers: Similarities

✔️ So, the first thing I want to talk about is the similarities between ice baths and cold showers. 

1) Actual purpose.

Okay, so both forms of cold water exposure are going to create the same physiological responses within your body, whether that be looking to increase muscle recovery, improve mental clarity, or maybe decrease inflammation within your body.

Both forms have shown pretty positive results across those categories.

2) Actual strategy.

What I’m talking about is breathwork.

If you haven’t stepped into a cold shower before, then you probably aren’t aware of the fact that your breath is going to be taken away as you do either of the two, right?

And the big thing here is controlling your breath.

Being able to do that is going to allow your body to adjust to those temperatures and allow you to endure that.

It’s kind of difficult at times, but this leads you to my next point, which is combating anxiety.

3) Combating anxiety:

This might not be the case for everybody, but it is for me, and I think that’s HUGE.

You know, what you’re doing while you’re exposing yourself to cold water is simulating the fight or flight response within your body and forcing yourself to go through those moments and controlling your breath and everything like that can carry over into real-world situations.

Remember guys, I'm not a doctor,🩺 so definitely don't take this as medical advice. 

If you’re going to add cold water exposure into your routine, into your daily life, whatever it may be, definitely speak to your healthcare professional before you do so.

4) Immunity response.

There have been some studies showing that exposing yourself to cold water actually assists you in that regard.

Ice Baths and Cold Showers: Main differences

Ice Baths and Cold Shower

✔️ Now, when it comes to the main differences, the first one is kind of a no-brainer, in my opinion.

Maybe not for everybody, but to me, it is. 

1) Temperature of the water:

Most shower faucets are only going to be around 55°, while with an ice bath, you’re looking at anywhere from 40 to 45°.

benefits of cold plunging

Unless, of course, you go and purchase a fancy cold plunge that has a chiller on the side of the tub that can get the water down to 36°.

Or maybe you live up north somewhere where it gets really cold during those cold wintry months, that water is likely to freeze outside and then, of course, it’s going to be colder than 40°.

So, that’s the first difference.

2) Positioning of your body and the water activity:

Generally speaking, when you are in an ice bath, you’re sitting motionless, right?

You’re completely immersed, maybe up to your neck, maybe you go under it, It kind of just depends on your personal preferences, right? But when you’re in a shower, you’re moving around.

You can use that cold shower as your normal shower, washing your hair, face, etc.

That can maybe keep you a little bit warmer as you’re going through that process.

With a shower, water is only hitting you in a specific spot, your front, your back, side, whatever, unless you, of course, have a waterfall shower where it’s kind of on top of your head. So, it really just depends on what you’re looking for.

🔎 Do you want to be fully immersed in that water? Do you want to kind of test the waters, so to speak, and kind of ease into it? Cold showers are probably going to be the way to go for beginners, or anybody looking to start doing this. Then over time, you know, you can really, you know, go hardcore.

So, there are pros and cons, pluses and minuses, whatever you want to call it, with both forms of cold water exposure. 

Ice baths 

Ice Bath Therapy

➡️ The first pro I want to bring up is something I just talked about a minute ago. That’s a boosted immunity response, right? 

There have been studies that show exposing your body to cold water can help increase your immunity. 

The next thing here is reduced inflammation, which doubles with muscle recovery, alright?

So, whenever you have sore muscles, anything like that, people often tell you, you know, go get a bag of ice, ice it, right? 

It’s essentially what you’re doing for your entire body when you hop into an ice bath.

Some more studies show that this cold water exposure can help you recover faster than hot water.

Another thing here is mental toughness. As I mentioned, ice baths are difficult, you know, they’re not for the faint of heart.

Not everybody wants to do them, and rightfully so. They’re pretty uncomfortable to be in. 

❌ Cons with an ice bath. 

1) It’s uncomfortable.

You know, they’re not fun to sit in. It takes a while to get used to it.

I go numb within about 10 seconds, but that’s not the case for everybody, which is something that you’re going to have to get used to over time.

2) Actual prep is needed.

Now, unless of course, you have a fancy cold plunge that controls the water temperature and everything like that for you, you’re going to have to go and get multiple bags of ice.

You’re going to have to fill up whenever you’re using, whether it be a TRW actual product like Ice Barrel or anything like that, or maybe even just your bathtub at home.

You’re going to have to go and take all that time to do it.

3) Spending money,

Ice gets expensive over time, especially during the hot summer months.

If you’re outside doing it, you might have to get 80 lbs of ice, maybe even more, just because of how quickly that ice is going to melt. 

Cold showers

Ice Baths and Cold Shower: What's Best After Exercise?
Ice Baths and Cold Shower: What’s Best After Exercise?

➡️ Okay, so let’s transition to cold showers. 

1) Increased Immunity:

The biggest pro, something I’ve talked about already, is immunity.

There was a study done that showed individuals who took cold showers for 90 days were 30% less likely to take a sick day as opposed to those who showered at normal temperatures.

And then, of course, it’s going to help you with combating anxiety and other mental health struggles that you may be dealing with.

2) Heart rate recovery:

There’s another study that’s linked in our article that showed trained cyclists who took cold showers immediately after their workouts saw their heart rate decrease at twice the rate as those who did not.

So, that’s interesting right there. And then, another thing here is that there’s no preparation needed at all.

You can just turn the water on, hop in the shower, and you’re good to go. And then, of course, this can work as your daily shower. 


1) It is still uncomfortable.

Yeah, the water is not as cold, 55° as opposed to 40°, maybe even colder than that.

So, you have limited water temperature control is another thing with the cons, but yeah, it’s going to be uncomfortable.

You’re still going to have to become accustomed to it, focus on your breathing technique and all of that stuff. 

And then, lastly, unless, of course, once again, you have a waterfall shower, there’s inconsistency regarding the actual exposure of your body to the cold temperatures.

These are things we’re going to have to work around, but you know, it’s easy to do.

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✔️ Guys, this is all about today’s blog over ice baths and cold showers.

While I think both forms of cold water exposure could be extremely beneficial, I’ve got to give the nod to ice baths. 

That’s my personal preference. I prefer being completely immersed in that cold water. Also, my body goes numb pretty quickly, which is great for me individually. 

However, I understand how intimidating it could be to look at an ice bath and hop into one. 

So, if you’re new to this and maybe you’re just wanting to, you know, test the waters, I recommend starting with a cold shower, kind of easing in before you make that plunge and hop into an ice bath. 

Q1) Are ice baths and cold showers good for you?

Imagine a scene, where you’ve just completed an intense workout, and your muscles ache. Taking an Ice Baths and Cold Shower can be like a reset button for your body.

It helps reduce inflammation, improve circulation, boost energy levels, and even enhance mood.

Plus, the shock of the cold water can wake up your senses and leave you feeling invigorated.

Q2) Can I take a cold shower after an ice bath?

Yes, you can certainly take a cold shower after an ice bath.

Just ensure you listen to your body and gradually adjust to the temperature changes of water to avoid shock.

Q3) Is it OK to take ice-cold showers every day?

Imagine if you ate your favourite dessert every day. At first, it might feel great, but eventually, you might start feeling sick of it. Similarly, taking ice-cold showers daily might become too intense for your body. It’s like anything. Your body needs time to recover, so do it on alternate days.

Q4) Why cold showers are bad for you?

Cold showers aren’t inherently bad for everyone. Sudden exposure to cold water can potentially trigger shock or worsen conditions.

Excessively cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia if not managed properly.

Q5) Is a cold shower as good as an ice bath?

Both have their challenges, and the difficulty may vary. Ice baths mean immersing the body in ice-cold water, which can be quite intense initially but may become more tolerable over time.

Cold showers, however, offer instant cold exposure but may require mental strength, especially during colder months.

Thanks all! If you have any questions please let me know in the comments.

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Rishabh Shrivastava

Hi, I'm Rishabh I take pride in making 'The Most Trusted Home Gym Equipment' blog for India. We are known for delivering unbiased and practical advice on fitness equipment for people with different age groups, sports, and budgets. If we recommend a product it's our trust in it, that it would serve you the best, or nothing.Please join our cause.🙌

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