Cryotherapy VS Ice Baths 101: Discover Their 4 Main Differences

cryotherapy vs ice bath

Cryotherapy and ice baths are two popular methods for reducing inflammation and pain in the body. While both techniques involve the use of cold temperatures, they differ in several important ways.

This blog post will explore the differences between cryotherapy and ice baths, including how they are administered, the benefits they offer, and any potential risks or drawbacks. By understanding the distinctions between these two treatments, you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Let’s go!

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of extremely cold temperatures to expose the body to cold for a short period of time. It is often used to help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, as well as to help with muscle soreness and recovery after exercise. Cryotherapy can be administered in various ways, but the most common method is through a cryotherapy chamber or a cryotherapy sauna.

In these devices, the air temperature is lowered to frigid levels, typically between -200 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit, using liquid nitrogen or cold air. The person undergoing cryotherapy stands in the chamber or sauna for a short period, typically 2-4 minutes. Cryotherapy baths are also sometimes administered through cold packs or ice packs, which are applied to the affected area for a while.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Employing Cryotherapy and What Risks Does it Involve?

Here are some potential advantages, disadvantages, and risks of cryotherapy:


  • Cryotherapy may be effective at reducing inflammation and pain.
  • It is a non-invasive treatment option.
  • Cryotherapy sessions are usually brief, lasting only a few minutes.


  • Cryotherapy may not be suitable for everyone. It should be avoided by people with certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease or cold urticaria, or pregnant women.
  • Some people may experience side effects from cryotherapy, such as skin irritation.
  • Cryotherapy can be expensive, especially if it is not covered by insurance.


  • Cryotherapy may cause burns or frostbite if the skin is not adequately protected.
  • There is a risk of injury if the person undergoing cryotherapy slips or falls on the cold surface.
  • Cryotherapy may not be effective for everyone; in some cases, it may not provide any benefits.

What Are the Ice Baths and What Are They Used for?

Ice baths, also known as cold water immersion or cold water therapy, are a treatment that involves immersing the body in a tub of cold water for a period of time. They are

often used to help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, as well as to aid in muscle recovery and soreness.

Ice baths are commonly used by athletes of all levels, from professional to recreational. After intense exercise, the muscles can become inflamed and sore, affecting performance and making it more challenging to train. Cold therapy in sports can help reduce inflammation and swelling, speeding up recovery and allowing athletes to return to training more quickly. It can also help numb the pain associated with muscle soreness, making it easier for athletes to continue training despite muscle fatigue.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Employing Ice Baths and What Risks Does it Involve?

Here are some potential advantages, disadvantages, and risks of ice baths:


  • Ice baths may help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness after exercise.
  • They are relatively inexpensive compared to other treatment options.
  • Ice baths can be easily administered at home.


  • Ice baths may be uncomfortable for some people.
  • They can be time-consuming, as the body needs to be immersed in ice water for a period of time in order to see benefits.
  • Ice baths may not be suitable for everyone, particularly people with certain medical conditions or injuries.


  • There is a risk of hypothermia if the body is immersed in cold water for too long.
  • Ice baths may cause skin irritation or frostbite if the skin is not properly protected.
  • There is a risk of injury if the person falls or slips while getting into or out of the ice bath.

What Are The 4 Differences Between Cryotherapy & Ice Baths?

  1. Temperature

Cryotherapy typically exposes the body to colder temperatures than an ice bath. Cryotherapy chambers and saunas can lower the air temperature to between -200 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit, while ice baths typically use around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit water.

1. Duration

Cryotherapy sessions typically last between 2 and 4 minutes, while ice baths usually last between 10 and 20 minutes.

2. Method of Administration

Cryotherapy is typically administered in a specialised cryotherapy chamber or sauna, while ice baths are administered by immersing the body in a tub of ice water.

3. Availability

Cryotherapy requires specialised equipment and is less widely available than ice baths, which can be done at home using a tub and ice.

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It is worth noting that cryotherapy and ice baths are not a substitute for proper rest and recovery and should be used in conjunction with other recovery methods, such as stretching, physio-led pilates and massages. Cryotherapy is generally considered more effective due to the lower temperatures used, while ice baths are more accessible and can be done at home.

Don’t just take our word for it – experience the benefits of cryotherapy for yourself! Click here to book your appointment and start your journey towards a healthier, more pain-free life.