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The History of Ice Baths & Cold Water Bathing

Which do you prefer, cold or hot? And while the latter is typically preferred, it's startling to learn that cold water bathing has also been a popular choice for a long time.

Cold water bathing is ingrained in our culture and is still changing as we learn more about its advantages, having been utilized as a tool by the ancient Romans and even by Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

Beginning of Bathing in Ancient Greece


Cold water bathing was initially extensively researched for any potential health advantages it might provide. The ancient Greeks were the first to discover the therapeutic benefits of thermalism, which made use of water at varying temperatures to relieve aches and pains and other health problems.

Cold and hot water therapy's other advantages, like being a tool for relaxation and socialization as well, were utilized much later on in time once the use of water became more widespread. Complications like skin disease as well as muscle and joint pain were among the first targets for cold and hot water therapy.

Even Hippocrates and Plato, who were at this time considered to be forerunners in the fields of modern medicine and philosophy, were among the first to truly investigate the effects of hot and cold water while recording its advantages for scientific purposes.

Ancient Rome

Roman culture continued to develop its use of water as regular bathing became crucial to maintaining personal health. After battle, soldiers frequently sought recovery in spas, while nation residents also participated for social and personal reasons.

As a result, bathing became a popular pastime, which ultimately led to a surge in the building of spas. Aqueduct construction accelerated the development of spas, enabling hundreds or even thousands of people to enjoy the benefits of this special, temperate water.

Roman doctors Galen and Celso also discussed thermal cures for their medicinal benefits, which led to the development of hydrology and the actual prescribing of thermal remedies. Water didn't, however, reemerge as a potential therapy for other human illnesses until the Renaissance era.

the Renaissance


Spas and hydrology developed throughout the world as time and technology advanced, and their usage for therapeutic purposes also began to thrive. Doctors from the middle of the eighteenth century, notably John Floyer and James Currie, used cold water to cure both physical and mental illnesses.

For instance, Floyer promoted cold bathing in the field of pediatrics while Currie included cold water in the treatment of fever. Floyer proposed that since just the temperature of the water was crucial for human development, babies and young children should take their baths in cold water.

During this time period, cold baths were frequently prescribed in conjunction with physical activity. Mud packs, massages, and the careful utilization of nature (such as gardens around the bath) were also frequently employed to enhance the effects of the bath. These developments collectively influenced our own use of various thermal therapies, which are frequently used for similar reasons, in the present day.

Today's Ice Baths

Today, ice baths and warmer temperatures aren't usually employed to treat human sickness as they were in the past, but their use and applications are still largely the same (with science now to back it up).

For instance, one procedure for easing general aches and pains and muscle tiredness is still being utilized today: ice baths. Additional studies and anecdotal data have revealed that cooler temperatures, such as those experienced in an ice bath, may also significantly lessen edema and muscular spasms.

While growing research into improving the health of people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) has been demonstrating the advantages of cold water as a therapy, newer discoveries, such as vagus nerve stimulation, have also come along.

History Reversing Course: How Ice Baths Will Develop Further

Since the beginning, as we became aware of its effects, bathing in both warm and cold water has changed with the ages. The advantages of bathing in cold water in particular began as a notion and later developed into a tool to better not just our lives but civilization as a whole.

The ongoing advancements we achieve from the simplicity of cold water also appear to have been passed down from past generations, even though the specific science and therapeutic procedures around it still require further study.

The history of bathing has evolved over time, beginning with the ancient Greeks who developed the concept of thermalism and continuing with early Roman and Renaissance physicians. It is apparent that there are still more advantages to cold water bathing that have not yet been identified. Originally used to just soothe muscle weariness, it is now also employed as a strategy to assist activate our central nervous system.

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