Speed Up Post-Workout Recovery By Freezing To Death

One thing we wish we could do – because it looks really cool on shows like Ted Lasso, movies like Major League, and some other sports comedies we’ve seen – is a workout so hard we need to immerse ourselves in a stainless-steel tub filled with ice, water, and whipped cream; otherwise known as an ice bath. 

Our board of directors just pointed out the whipped cream part is a function of last night’s dream rather than a recommended ingredient within the ice bath recipe matrix, which is why we have a board of directors.  

Generally speaking, this frigid process is called “cold water immersion” or cryotherapy. One plops into a tub (screaming, as it’s filled with at least 50–60-degree water, even with the inherent ice cubes bobbing around, so don’t go thinking it’s 32 degrees or whatever like we did because that proves you did indeed receive a “D” in high-school chemistry) up to one’s Schwarzenegger-sized pectorals for 10-15 minutes to lower inflammation, reduce pain, and speed up recovery. 

Which sounds a lot like smoking a Swisher Sweet to get better at running, but whatever.

Our crack, white lab-coated, multi-national, gender-diverse team of research analysts who work for us because of our believable yet completely fabricated documentation of Series B Funding just pointed out that while we’ve witnessed many an ice bath within the cinematic or series-based genres of sports comedies, we have yet to see this happen in real life as part of a professional athletic organization or pro athlete’s regimen. Obviously, these analysts don’t understand how deadlines work, so we subsequently demoted them to interns. 

There’s ample evidence freezing-ness speeds up physiological recovery, though, and none stronger than the popularity of New Year’s Day (the most hungover day of the year after Mother’s Day) – timed polar bear plunges. 

This annoyingly Instagram Reel-generating trend involves throngs of headache-ridden, dehydrated, stuporous, remorseful citizens flocking to the nearest beach January 1st of any given year, milling about, slurring, and making out with strangers because they had so many French 75s (gin, simple syrup, champagne, lemon juice, oh Lord) last night they still think they’re at the bar, then running into the freezing water in hopes of absolution of their horrific, lewd behavior despite having good jobs and families and car payments. 

They dive in and scream – both at the cold, sudden sobriety, and discernment of their sluttiness, regardless of gender – then run back out, with at least 37% of all participants exploding from hypothermia and guilt. Moreover, of the 90% who survive, one-in-five freeze in their tracks after extricating themselves from whatever body of water they foolishly splashed around in, their ice-cubed forms now a permanent, albeit unique feature to the landscape of say Alki Beach, serving as grim and likely unheeded reminders of the inherent dangers of engaging in such wantonly risky behaviors next New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day.  

Granted, there’s some good to be had with these events, e.g., The Seattle Plunge supports Special Olympic athletes through pledge generation and offers life-saving yet counterintuitive-based-on -temperature-but-it-makes-sense-for-a-hangover beer gardens, along with music and food trucks, although rumor has it due to a scheduling snafu all the food trucks at the 2018 Plunge served gazpacho. 

If the behavior of our significantly loosely associated peer groups isn’t enough to lend credence to the benefits of cryotherapy, we can simply point to doctors – specifically, doctors from the T.V. talk show The Doctors, where mostly handsome guys in scrubs with just enough “V” in the V-neck top to reveal chiseled, expansive, trainer-generated and laser-hair-removed chests stroll around the set, making heavy eye contact with the camera as they talk about science like they remember anything from a medical correspondence school. Our kind of source! 

On January 1st, 2013, which admittedly was a long time ago, Dr., ah sorry, Doctor Travis Stork, took an ice bath to reduce swelling, tissue breakdown, and pain. However, due to the fact he wasn’t injured or hadn’t exerted himself before the attempt, and that secretly the whole thing was a ratings ploy given his scrub tops and bottoms obviously came off, specifically via a very slow, fluid, sinuous, somehow romantic pole dance, the medical study produced no solid evidence that cold water immersion is good for humans.  

Lucky for us, our actual interns came through at zero hour with some professionally executed research, including annotations, bibliographies, verified sources with contact information, taped interviews, etc. – and surprisingly so, given many of these kids are enrolled in various state university systems. Upon receipt of this research, we took the opportunity to explain to these uncomfortably eager, mystifyingly hard-working, weirdly kind, future great leaders that they too obviously don’t understand deadlines, and anyone knows that absolutely no one verifies any source, unless they work for 60 Minutes, which we will never be on, so they just wasted a bunch of time and we’re really annoyed with them. But go ahead and leave all of that documentation on our desk and get out of our office, please. Go boss around the research analysts or something.

Since it’s not essential, we won’t go into all of the data but rather hit the highlights and maybe through in some conjecture:

Some guy named Mike “Iron Skin” Reinold, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., claims – as a physical therapist and former head athletic trainer for the Boston Red Sox – “Ice baths help people move and feel better, which can help them recover.” 

That’s it? Oh wait, the rest is under our coffee mug. 

Cold water immersion reduces inflammation and improves recovery by flushing away metabolic waste – particularly lymph, a gross clear fluid made up of white blood cells and even grosser fluid from our intestines – through the constriction and dilation of our blood cells. 

Basically, our lymph nodes don’t have a pump, which is a revelation to the crack research analysts, interns, and leadership of this office, so now we’re giddy with the idea of our new soon to be patented and heavily marketed medical device/ revenue stream/business plan/Series A Funding generator: The PumpMaster 5000. Because what sounds more appealing? Cryotherapy, or wearing a pump disguised as a lapel pin that’s secretly attached to the 600 lymph nodes scattered throughout the body by cumbersome wiring? 

Oh, right, the rest of it. Ice baths constrict and open vessels manually… flooding our handsome cells with nutrients and oxygen to theoretically help…wait, couldn’t we just get a massage? Oh, sorry.  

Wow, there’s more. This Clayton guy really prattles on. Do we have time for this? I thought we were going to work on PumpMaster logos. Okay, fine:

Clayton believes cryotherapy prepares people for other difficult conditions by building mental resilience and…oh, come on now. Enough. Anyone over 38 can build mental strength by trying to climb a maple tree. We get it, Clayton, you think this works. 

Yet, like most things academics endlessly study, ice baths apparently yield mixed results. Some studies say they’re ineffective at lowering inflammation; others say reducing inflammation after a workout limits strength gains since the damage from a workout acts as a signal to the body to build up that area more. 

Another study claimed if one is running a marathon in Miami, lowering body temperature before the race through cold water immersion could boost performance. That sounds like a terrible idea.  

Really, the point is it’s likely worth a shot if one has no underlying health conditions and maybe does their own research. What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind, don’t think about the worse that can happen. Just find a way to recover. You’ve been working hard. Now we’ve got to go and talk to our graphic designer. Have a good night.  

Avatar photo
About Patrick McNerthney 51 Articles
Patrick McNerthney is a former President, Titan of Industry and general Society-Improver. He owns a business called Outcasting, which purportedly offers writing services, but is most likely a front for the illegal import and distribution of vacant hermit crab shells. Patrick aspires to own an NFL team and take over his block. He’s written four books: How to Break Out of Prison*, How to Cheat on Your Taxes*, How to Steal Your Neighbor’s Roof*, and The Future Will Not Involve Underwear**. *Not written yet **Not formatted or published yet