Reporter Tom is left cold to the benefits of ice bath chilling

ICE baths '“ top elite athletes like Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Olympic gold medallist, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill swear by them.

Saturday, 8th July 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:55 am
Reporter Tom Cotterillin his ice bath Picture: Malcolm Wells (170707-3419)

‘They help you to recover more quickly’, they say. ‘They’re good for your body’, they claim.

But as I slid into my own bath of ice-chilled water only one thought came to my mind: ‘This has got to be a joke!’

The water was chilled to about 14 degrees – fractionally chillier than the average temperature of the sea and nowhere near the warmth of a nice bath at home.

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Reporter Tom Cotterillin his ice bath Picture: Malcolm Wells (170707-3419)

As soon as I plunged in, my body began to shiver and within a few of minutes my extremities were feeling numb.

Thankfully, I was perfectly safe, being observed by researchers from the University of Portsmouth’s department of sport and exercise science.

Taking place inside the site’s extreme environment laboratory (a name which certainly didn’t help reduce my anxiety!), I spent five minutes in the bath.

Before my plunge, Dr Joe Costello – who is an expert in sports science and the effect temperature and extreme environments have on the body – used a thermal imaging camera to measure my body temperature.

Reporter Tom Cotterill has a friend for company as he tries out his ice bath, with scientific observation by, from left: Dr Joe Costello and technicians Danny White and Harry Mayes Picture by: Malcolm Wells (170707-3427)

He tells me how the cold water will restrict my blood flow and cause my skin temperature to plummet, turning from a bright orange to a dark purple.

The idea is that getting into an ice bath helps to reduce swelling, with some claiming that allows elite athletes to maintain a high level of physical performance during prolonged contests.

But Dr Costello says that for the average Joe, the would be little benefit.

‘There’s quite a lot of research looking at the timing of using different ice baths and if we were to use it at part of a regular training process there are question marks whether continuous use of ice baths would stunt the natural adaptations that would occur,’ he said.

Dr Joe Costello takes a thermal image )of Tom after his ice dunk

‘There is evidence to suggest there is a strong placebo effect when getting in cold water like this.’

After a while in the bath I started to get used to the temperature and it became relatively easy to cope with.

However, would I recommend you go home and dunk yourself in an ice bath at a hard session at the gym? No. No I would not.

Tom’s ice bath adventure was streamed live on Facebook. Click here to see the video and more.

A thermal image of Tom Cotterill before the ice bath
Tom's thermal image after the ice bath, with warm orance turned to cold purple
Reporter Tom Cotterillin his ice bath Picture: Malcolm Wells (170707-3419)
Reporter Tom Cotterill has a friend for company as he tries out his ice bath, with scientific observation by, from left: Dr Joe Costello and technicians Danny White and Harry Mayes Picture by: Malcolm Wells (170707-3427)
Dr Joe Costello takes a thermal image )of Tom after his ice dunk
A thermal image of Tom Cotterill before the ice bath
Tom's thermal image after the ice bath, with warm orance turned to cold purple