Mainly used by athletes after an intense work out to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. In a typical ice bath, the temperature in the water is generally around 50 to 59 degrees, and athletes can soak for up to 20 minutes at a time.
The main pro of an ice bath is reducing muscle pain. The cold temperatures numb the pain and prevent your muscles from future soreness. In addition, some researchers believe that the water acts as a light compression, aiding in your bodies blood circulation. This can help your muscles by moving out waste products like lactic acid. The bath is believed to not only numb pain but also constrict the blood vessels. This will limit the amount of swelling and prevent future pain.
Also, immersing yourself into an ice bath could actually have negative affects on your health. Using an ice bath, especially without the supervision of a trained athletic physician, can cause increased heart rate and even shock. On top of this, the long-term side effects of ice baths have not yet been studied. There is no way of telling what other potential hazards an ice bath could pose to your health.