There's no denying that Lady Gaga is an icon—so whatever she does, the world pays attention; and her latest Instagram post is no different.
In a series of pictures shared late Thursday night, Gaga documented how she unwinds after a show. (FYI: She's currently in residency in Las Vegas, with her show, Enigma.) "Post show routine," she wrote, captioning the pictures. "Ice bath for 5-10 min, hot bath for 20, then compression suit packed with ice packs for 20." Oh, and PS: Gaga looks totally nude in the first two photos.
It’s not clear whether Gaga does this after every show or if she needed the extra rehabilitation due to a tumble off stage Thursday. As reported by Entertainment Tonight, fan footage shared to social media shows Gaga in the arms of a male fan she invited onto the stage to dance with her. When he stumbles and falls off the stage into the pit, he takes Gaga with him. Naturally, as a true pro, she got right back onto the stage and carried on with her performance.
So wait, why is Lady Gaga in an ice bath—and then a hot bath?
While, again, Gaga doesn't go into specifics about her post-show routine, there is a bit of science behind using an ice bath for recovery.
Ice baths, also known as cold water immersion therapy, can lower the temperature of the muscles after a strenuous bout of exercise, Lauren Lobert, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist and owner of APEX Physical Therapy in Brighton, Michigan, tells Health. “One theory is that ice baths decrease muscle temperature and blood flow to the muscles so the chemicals and inflammation that your body makes during and after strenuous exercise is less,” Lobert added. “These chemicals are part of why you feel sore after exercise, and by decreasing their production you may be less sore.”
Then, when Gaga switches to a hot bath, that's called contrast therapy, Mandy Johnson, DPT, physical therapist and owner of Renegade Wellness in Cheyenne, Wyoming, tells Health. “Here, the theory is that by dilating and constricting the blood vessels you are able to stimulate reduced swelling with the cold bath and then increased blood flow with the hot bath in order to reduce swelling in your muscles,” she says, adding that this can also help repair any small muscle damage that happens through exercise.
While the science is still jury’s out on both ice baths and contrast therapy (there's not a ton of evidence to validate either), both are common practice among elite athletes, which is likely why Gaga is doing it. “It definitely won't hurt her recovery," says Lobert. "And the idea is to prime her body to perform like an athlete's night in and night out. She is trying to decrease inflammation and muscle soreness, and accelerate recovery."
Okay, well what about that compression suit? What's up with that?
So, Gaga's wearing a recovery garment from NormaTec, which, according to the website, "enhances blood flow and speeds recovery." Those recovery suits (while pricey—NormaTec suits can start at nearly $1,300) can aid in recovery, says Johnson, but people should be cautious to use them in conjunction with ice packs. "Extreme caution should be used as ice packs can get below 32 degrees and stay cold, unlike ice, which starts to melt the moment it comes into contact with your body,” Johnson warned.
But overall, Johnson says "if Gaga's routine makes her feel like she is ready to deliver an amazing show the very next day, then more power to her." Still, Johnson suggests Lady Gaga skip the hot bath and try out the ice bath alone—maybe in conjunction with a compression suit (but not ice packs). Are you listening, Gaga?
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