Ice Bath After Cycling: Are They Beneficial for Recovery?

The increasing popularity of cold therapy as a recovery method for athletes and sports enthusiasts alike has led to a flurry of questions within each sporting faculty. This is also true for the world of cycling, where both professional and non-professionals are curious about the benefits of an ice bath after cycling from a recovery standpoint.

In this article, we explore this topic in full. We discuss how ice baths work as a recovery method, inflammation, scientific studies and more. If you’re a keen cyclist looking to learn about this subject, we recommend reading on.

Do Ice Baths Aid Recovery After Cycling?

Yes, taking an ice bath after cycling can aid the recovery process. This should be done at a temperature between 10 and 15 degrees, and you should be submerged in the water for no longer than 10 minutes.

It’s worth noting that if you take an ice bath after cycling that is too cold, it may hinder your ability to recover.

How Ice Baths Work as a Recovery Method

Reduction of Inflammation and Muscle Soreness

The primary way that an ice bath can be beneficial for a cyclist’s recovery is through a reduction in inflammation and muscle soreness.

The logic here is that when our bodies are exposed to colder temperatures, our blood vessels constrict. This, in turn, reduces blood flow which limits the spread of inflammatory cells, and reduces the acute inflammation experienced by the body.

By reducing acute inflammation, muscles can restore their cells quicker, meaning they are ready for another round of exercise in a shorter period of time.

Scientific Evidence Evaluating the Effectiveness of Ice Baths for Recovery

In 2018 a study was conducted by Ryan Overmayer, Francisco Tavares and Matthew William Driller, who were all part of the Health, Sport and Human Performance department at the University of Walkato.

Their ‘Acute Post-Exercise Recovery Strategies in Cycling: A Review’ study found that ‘cold water immersion may improve 5-15s sprint cycling power output, 1-15min time trial (TT) total work performed and mean power output in hot and humid conditions. Cold water immersion was also more beneficial than active recovery at improving total work performed’.

This indicates that cold therapy can be beneficial for recovery, and specifically for cyclists.

Practical Tips and Precautions for Using Ice Baths Effectively

Using an ice bath on a regular basis requires some planning and common sense, and the key variables that need considering are – temperature, duration and potential risks.

Ideal Temperature and Duration

The debate for the ideal temperature of an ice bath for recovery is a little hazy, however, according to Jonathan Leeder, an exercise physiologist for the English Institute of Sport, the optimal cold therapy temperature for physical recovery is between 10°C to 15°C.

We recommend Chill Tubs customers stay in their ice bath no longer than 10 minutes at this temperature if they’re looking to improve recovery and muscle soreness.

Safety Considerations and Potential Risks

When engaging with cold therapy, there are some potential risks to avoid, these include:

  • Not using an ice bath when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which hopefully won’t be the case following a bike ride. This is because it increases your chances of fatal hypothermia.
  • We do not recommend children use the Chill Tub.
  • Pregnant women should consult with their doctor first before taking an ice bath.
  • Anybody with serious health conditions (e.g. diabetes, high or low blood pressure) should also consult with their doctor first.
  • Not staying submerged in cold temperatures too long.
  • Not setting the temperature of your Chill Tub too low.

Other Recovery Strategies to Use Alongside Cold Therapy

Alongside using cold therapy for cycling recovery, there are some other methods you can use in conjunction to help you get back on the bike sooner rather than later.


Stretching is a fundamental part of recovery from intense exercise, as this helps release tension in your muscles following a bike ride. It’s worth noting that deep stretching should only be done post-exercise rather than before, as this can actually increase the risk of injury. You should opt for dynamic stretching prior to cycling as part of your warm-up.


Help release further stress and tension from your muscles post-cycling by treating yourself to a massage after an ice bath. Research is limited in this area, but it’s worth considering.

Chill Tubs at the National Cycling Show

If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about the benefits of cold therapy for cycling, Chill Tubs will be attending the National Cycling Show in Birmingham on the 15th and 16th of June in 2024.

You’ll be able to see our Chill Tub products in-person and ask our experts any questions you may have about cold therapy.

We hope to meet you there!

Contact Us

If you’re unable to make the visit to Birmingham, you can always contact us at a more convenient time. Via email, phone or in-person, we love speaking to our customers to help them understand how we can help improve their wellbeing through our products.

[1] Citation: Overmayer, R., Tavares, F., & Driller, M. W. (2018). Acute Post-Exercise Recovery Strategies in Cycling: A Review. Journal of Science and Cycling, 7(3), 11-44.