For most people, when posed with a question about who actually takes ice baths, the immediate response is – athletes. Although this is, percentage wise, the most prolific user group, there are other denominations which you may not have considered.
Let’s take a moment or two to look at the athlete ice bath demographic. Don’t be fooled into thinking that cold water therapy is only for the elite as it’s certainly appropriate and encouraged for any individual who puts their body under stress. That basically means that regardless of whether you’re a weekend warrior, or whether you’re competing on the world stage, you’re pushing your body to its limits and you need to ensure that you maintain it in peak working condition day in and day out. Generally speaking, due to the accessibility of sports scientists, physiologists and practitioners at higher levels of sport, it certainly is the more elitist groups that have access to technologies to guide the research when it comes to ice bath protocols and procedures. However, what ensues is that the information acquired at the higher levels is then subsequently filtered down through all levels of sport, the end product of which sees amateur and semi-professional athletes doing their best to recover with ice bath therapy more effectively.
Ice Baths & Social Media
At a time when social media has such a profound effect on everyday life, we have seen the evolution of streams such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in particular which have allowed athletes to reach out to fans and vice versa on a scale like never before. So the point being, if an athlete sees a picture of their idol wearing the best of the best equipment, the immediate mental response is that that must help their performance and the fan would seek to get their hands on the product. Similarly, if a follower sees an athlete performing a unique training drill, they will likely try it themselves or perhaps show it to their coach. It should come as no surprise then that if an athlete was taking an ice bath and captioned the image with text which advocated the procedure then their fan would be more likely to try it because, in their mind, regardless of any scientific backing or data, if the pros are doing it then they should be too.
A perfect example of this occurred very recently when Andy Murray posted an image of himself in an ice bath with the Wimbledon winners trophy. A single image, if seen only by his own followers, would have reached an audience of 894K! Of those 894K followers we can only speculate on how many would have subsequently researched ice baths and cold therapy and given it a go themselves as a direct result of the post.
Similarly, David Beckham, a much loved and revered former English Footballer, featured in an H&M commercial alongside actor and comedian Kevin Hart which saw the duo entering into ice baths as David Beckham ran through some of his daily routine. Features such as these help to heighten the general public’s interest in ice baths whilst also passively educating young athletes in the process.
To recount every example of when a celebrity or elite athlete has shared images of themselves in an ice bath would be terribly time consuming and tedious as there are just so many, but the point is obvious – people’s curiosity and athletes’ need to acquire “the edge” lead them to trying techniques and therapies such as ice baths.
Many people will have cringed at images of teams of athletes filtering down to their local beach on a cold winters morning after a tough game the previous evening, to take a dip in the icy cold water. Why could they possibly want or need to do that? This method has opened many people’s minds up to the idea of ice bath recovery but obviously, achieving the therapy in a much more controlled and automated environment is the option of choice.
Ice Bath Dancers
As was touched on earlier, it’s not only athletes taking or advocating ice baths, there is another demographic of individuals who put their bodies under just as much, if not more stress and that is – dancers. You need only to look at images of the battered feet of ballet dancers to see the kind of limits they will push their bodies to so it’s no surprise then that they too seek treatments and therapies which will allow their muscles to heal and recover quickly and conveniently.
Think of the countless hours spent rehearsing and the many consecutive days performing numerous shows and the toll that takes on the body, particularly the legs. Having to back up performances day in and day out ensures that dancers and athletes alike are in constant need of processes such as ice baths to keep their bodies in peak working order. Again, a simple glance at social media allows you to see more images of professional dancers such as those performing on television shows, including Dancing with the Stars, taking ice baths.
The reality is that if there was no benefit to the individual at all then they wouldn’t return for ice bath recovery again and again for subsequent sessions. The fact that they make it an integral part of their recovery regime speaks volumes and advocates the therapy whilst at the same time encouraging followers, fans or inquisitive random viewers to delve into the world of ice bath recovery, having perhaps never considered it in the past.