Sage standing in the Atlantic

Ice Baths Are Hazing

Ice baths are hazing. And they may not be doing what you mean them to.

  • They are a stressful experience designed by your superiors (coaches, your higher self) to make you tougher
  • Coaches often require them solely because they were forced to do them in their student years
  • For groups, they are intended as a bonding experience
  • They can be dangerous!

And the science is out on whether ice baths improve your recovery. One recent study showed that those who took a room-temperature bath recovered faster than those who suffered in an ice bath. So why suffer?

The takeaway: you can skip it!

And if you are looking to ice baths to toughen you up, you’ll do better with a sport-specific workout that mimics the performance (race, game) you are training for. Your training itself should make you tough!

Go Deeper

This article by Chris Ballard in Sports Illustrated is a great look at the science and practice of ice bathing in 2024. If you have Apple News, you can read it here; otherwise, look on the newsstand, as I haven’t found it available elsewhere online.

I love this thread by coach Steve Magness:

The second edition of The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery walks you through the new science of cold and hot therapy. Takeaway: a warm bath is nicer and will likely do more for you!

The book is out March 5.

Preorder it now and you’ll get it on publication day!

Feel Great About Doing Less

Learn how the pros emphasize the fundamentals to maximize performance. This free guide contains the three very low-cost things you should focus on to do your best—and the one thing you should skip, despite its popularity.

Pop your email in the box and I’ll send it right over!