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Ice therapy has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. If you’ve been keen to try it, it’s likely you’ve encountered celebs like Wim Hof, the Dutch ice water aficionado who swears ice therapy is the key to unlocking health benefits.

Both cryotherapy and ice baths involve using cold elements to help with recovery to reduce pain and swelling often caused by muscle strains or injury, providing numerous health and wellness benefits. These plunging temperatures will cause a gentle jolt between the nervous system and the brain, releasing endorphins.

So what one is best for you? In this article we will cover the key differences between cryotherapy and ice baths, outlining how they both treatments work and the benefits they provide, to help you choose a method that works for your body.  

Table of Contents

  • Cryotherapy vs. Ice Baths – What’s the Difference?
  • How Does Cryotherapy Work?
  • How Does an Ice Bath Work?
  • The Benefits of Cold Therapy
  • Which One is Better?
  • Recover with Rimba Sweat

Cryotherapy vs. Ice Baths – What’s the Difference?

Both of these methods aim to drop your body temperature and benefit the body in different ways. The key differences between cryotherapy and ice baths are this: the former focuses on healing on a surface level while the latter is an immersive, full-body experience.  

Whole Body Cryotherapy uses dry air, which gradually cools, eliminating the shock of plunging into an ice bath. The gradual temperature change can be seen by some as more comfortable, however, for many, the best part about using an ice bath is the jolt from the cold as it helps to build mental strength.

Ice bath are also a slower process that you can leave and come back to, which provides a better opportunity to enjoy Contrast Therapy, like you can enjoy in Rimba Sweats sauna suites. There is less opportunity to do this with cryotherapy.

How Does Cryotherapy Work?

Whole-body cryotherapy involves standing in a “Cryotherapy Chamber” for anywhere between one to three minutes. During this time, the body will be exposed to extremely cold air in the range of -110°C to -170°C, usually created by a substance like liquid nitrogen.

Other forms of cryotherapy include applying cold objects, including ice, ice packs or cooling gels, directly to the skin to accelerate healing. Concentrating on specific sore areas of the body, this method of cold therapy slows the blood from rushing to the injured area to reduce swelling and pain.

How Does an Ice Bath Work?

An ice bath is exactly as it sounds, and this method comes in many different shapes and sizes including bathtubs or barrels.

Cold temperatures may be achieved by refrigeration technologies or ice cubes, with a temperature of between 5-10°C hoping to be achieved (as any colder will result in water being too icy).  

Submerging in an ice bath sparks an emergency alarm in your nervous system, as your body thinks it’s in a life-threatening condition. However, you can calm your body by taking slow, deep breaths which will build mental resilience. The typical time spent in an ice bath is between two and 10 minutes.

The Benefits of Cold Therapy

Exposure to the cold is linked with a number of health benefits. Immediate benefits of cryotherapy or ice baths include faster recovery, improved circulation and a stronger immune system, plus it is a real mood booster. Scientists have also found evidence that exposure to the cold helps to speed up metabolism.

Athletes may benefit from cold therapy as it helps to reduces inflammation, swelling, and sore muscles, which will speed up their recovery process after exercise. It is also linked to improvements in your immune system, sleep pattern and mood, while helping to reduce stress.

Which One is Better?

So, is an ice bath better than cryotherapy? This will all depend on your personal preferences and how you wish to use these treatments. If you’d like to be in and out of your treatment fast taking little recovery time, cryotherapy is for you. However, if you’re looking for a heart-pumping full-body experience that will feel exhilarating then you’d perhaps enjoy a plunge in an ice bath more.

While the physical benefits of both treatments have been heavily researched, it seems neither is conclusively more effective than the other. Both provide a myriad of health benefits, so it depends on which you feel most comfortable doing mentally and physically.

Recover with Rimba Sweat

At Rimba Sweat, we have four state-of-the-art sauna suites that offer pure relaxation for customers. In the Remedy Room, enjoy our newest contrast therapy offering which includes our Finnish traditional sauna, two ice baths and pail shower. Book now to experience a recovery session like no other.