Ice bath – feet first.
The health benefits of cold water immersion are undisputed, but what are the effects when you decide to immerse just your feet?
When you take icy baths, your feet with thank you, particularly if you take the cold plunge post workout, or after twisting your ankle or otherwise injuring your foot. Ice baths for feet are also simply delicious if you have had a particularly long and strenuous day on your feet.
But what are the specific reasons you would want to immerse your feet in icy cold water, what are the benefits you are likely to experience and what are best practices for letting your feet experience ice baths? Keep reading – you’ll learn the answers to these questions and more.
Why cold water immersions good four your feet
Cold water immersion, also referred to as old plunging or cold therapy, has been in use for decades and have particularly won traction among professional athletes, practitioners of applied physiology, and health nerds everywhere – including Tim Ferriss.
Ice baths come with a multitude of positive health benefits. Here is a breakdown of the most important ones.
Soothes soreness and reduces pain
Ice constricts blood vessels, flushes waste products from the muscles and causes delayed onset muscle soreness.
Imagine that you have just returned home from an intense workout session or a hike, have twisted your ankle, or have been wearing too-tight or uncomfortable shoes all day long. In any of these scenarios, it is often your feet that pay the price.
Immersing your feet in a bucket of ice cold water – or better still, a professional grade foot spa- alleviates soreness and pain, and gets your feet back in fighting condition in record time.
Icy cold temperatures help prevent swelling and inflammation, so when you immerse your feet in an ice bath, you can stop your feet and ankles from swelling after an injury, or you can use cold water to reduce the ballooning effect if the damage has already been done.
Icy cold temperatures reduce inflammation by making your blood vessels constrict, which w
Helps your feet recover faster from physical activity
Many runners swear by ice baths, not only because they alleviate pain from acute injuries – although, ice baths certainly have got that covered -, but also because the cool water prevents tissue breakdown and soothes sore and aching muscles.
One of the best benefits associated with cold immersion is that it can improve circulation. In other words, if your blood circulation is poor – you’ll know if it is, as your extremities will always be unpleasantly cold, even on the warmest summer’s day -, soaking your feet if not your entire body in ice cod water can help you kickstart your circulatiory system and regulate your overall blood pressure.
How to take an icy foot bath
Icy foot baths are accessible to anyone. If you’re able to invest in a professional grade foot spa – as many a physical therapist or athlete would recommend – then this is your best option for unlocking the positive effects of cold therapy.
However, you shouldn’t let a lack of resources stop you. A simple water-tight bucket big enough to put your feet in is all you need, along with a generous helping of ice cubes and a thermometer for measuring the temperature.
When you immerse your entire body in icy temperartures, you need to be very mindful of the temperature and of how long you stay in the icy water, as too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect when you overdo it.
Ice baths should be between approximately 10–15° Celsius or 50–59° Fahrenheit, and you should never stay in for more than 16-20 minutes. You still need to be mindful when only immersing your feet, but you are less likely to experience any adverse effects when the rest of your body is saying at a normal temperature.
Alternatives to ice foot baths
Another way of experiencing some of the same benefits as cold immersion provides you with – plus a few others, including decreased cortisol and increased serotonin levels, is through heat therapy.
Heat therapy can be a good alternative to cold water therapy, particularly if you are less tolerant to extremely cold temperatures, or your main reason for giving your feet an ice bath is to relax, rather than recovery.
Warm epson salt bath
You don’t need a hot tub to reap the health and mood-boosting benefits of heat therapy – as with cold therapy, a warm bath can easily be done on a budget.
A warn epsom salt bath, where you immerse your feet in a solution of warm water and epsom salts, is a good treatment for tired feet, while soaking your feet in hot water also elevates your mood and calms your mind.
If you are in a hurry and don’t have the time for a relaxing foot bath, a shower with ice cold water is also a great option. Of course, you reap the maximum benefits of cold therapy if you fully immerse your feet in low-temperature water and ice, but if time is of the essence, a cold shower is much better than nothing – particularly if you are in a rush to soothe poor pain or prevent swelling.
Ice baths for feet Q & A
We have gone over the primary ice bath benefits, but if you are still left with some questions, you are likely to find them answered here.
Are ice baths good for your feet?
Ice baths are incredibly beneficial for your feet – as well as for the rest of you.
Ice baths are the complete package when to comes to taking care of your feet, your muscles and connective tissues, your circulation, and even the quality of your sleep.
The specific benefits associated with immersing your feet in cold water include: Reduced swelling of your feet and ankles, faster recovery following resistance training or running, soothing sore muscles and alleviating foot pain and preventing tissue and cellular breakdown.
What does soaking your feet in ice water do?
Giving your feet an ice bath has a multitude of effects and benefits – many of them are listed in the above answer.
When you immerse your feet in an ice water tub, your blood vessels constrict, and waste products are flushed from your feet. If your feet are sore and swollen, the extremely cold temperatures will help prevent further swelling while reducing the existing swelling to an absolute minimum.
What are the benefits of icing your feet?
Icing your feet usually refers to placing an ice pack directly onto your feet, typically after sustaining an injury or if your feet or ankles are swollen.
However, you can use ice in a foot bath to amplify the effects of the ice, and to create a more relaxing experience.
What is the best time to take an icy foot bath?
You can give your feet a cold bath any time you like, but the best time is right after you have been running, working out, overworked your feet by walking/climbing/dancing all day or all night, or right after sustaining an injury.
What do you need to be mindful of when taking a cold water foot bath?
When taking an icy foot bath, you need to be mindful of two things: The temperature of your icy-cold bath, and how long your feet have been in. Too much of a good thing is always a bad idea, and cold therapy foot baths are no exception. While challenging yourself and pushing beyond your comfort zone is great, you don’t want to end up with hypothermia..
If you are new to ice bathing, start slow, and start small. Icy foot baths are, in themselves, useful stepping stoned when you want to build up your cold tolerance with an eye to taking full body cold plunges.
Whether your goal is to ease and soothe sore and inflamed muscles, improve your blood circulation or simply relax, there is no doubt that taking icy cold foot baths unlock a host of health-boosting benefits.
What’s more, icy foot baths are accessible to anyone, on any budget or schedule. So what are you waiting for? Why not take the cold plunge, feet first, today?