Ice bath trend gains popularity, shows mental, physical health benefits

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Ice baths have been shown to have a range of benefits for both mental and physical health.

On social media, polar plunges are becoming more and more popular with people even creating their own ice baths in their backyards.

Therapist Andee Bott said the mental health benefits come from grounding techniques.

“Our emotions are always tied to our body, so when our body is dysregulated, our emotions are dysregulated, and when you ground yourself with your senses in the present, like what you’re smelling, hearing, touching, it helps bring that emotional brain down,” Bott said.

People around Provo have taken ice baths in the Provo river, which averages around 35 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter.

The cold water temperature narrows your blood cells, which decreases blood flow and helps with inflammation. This triggers chemicals in your brain that induce fight or flight. By forcing your nervous system to regulate, it increases your tolerance to stress and boosts your immune system. 

Even at BYU, athletes use a state of the art ice bath system to recover.

Trainer Christine Duffey said the cold water therapy is especially helpful for the BYU football players during fall camp.

“The different temperatures in your body help heal your body in a different way so at the end of the day it’s just really good for recovery,” Duffey said.

But if an icy cold bath isn’t appealing, there are other ways to get similar mental health benefits.

“You could do what we call the ‘54321’ where you do like five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can smell, two things you can touch, one thing you can taste and you just kind of describe and look for those and it grounds you to your senses,” Bott said.

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