Ice baths and cold plunge therapy is having a bit of a moment in 2023. Thanks largely to the growing legion of supporters across social media platforms spruiking the physiological and mental health benefits associated with regular cold therapy, new facilities (including Rimba’s very own!) are making it easier than ever to partake.
But before you jump into the deep end or immerse yourself too quickly, we’ve put together a list of 8 essential cold plunge & ice bath therapy do’s & don’ts to help guide you through the process.
Table of Contents
· 4 Ice Bath & Cold Plunge Do’s
1. Take it slow
2. Listen to your body
3. Make it a habit
4. Have warm clothes ready
· 4 Ice Bath & Cold Plunge Don’ts
1. Go it alone
2. Overdo it on your first time
3. Go when you’re sick
4. Ignore other medical conditions
4 Ice Bath & Cold Plunge Do’s
1. DO: Take it slow
Ice baths and cold therapy can be a shock to the system (quite literally), so it’s important to take it slow. The recommended time for your first cold plunge is anywhere between 4-8 minutes depending on how your body reacts. Once you get a better sense of how your body reacts, you can then determine whether you want to do more (or less) as suitable.
Remember that not all ice baths are the same. Those with jets and moving water can amplify the feeling of cold and, in spite of having a comparable water temperature to some other ice baths, create a significantly lower perceived temperature.
2. DO: Listen to your body
Ice baths aren’t just about testing your mental fortitude, they’re about listening to your body. More is definitely not more, so it’s important to listen to your body and limit your exposure based on what your body is telling you. Body fat levels and other personal factors can drastically change what we can endure – so don’t base your experience off your peers.
3. DO: Make it a habit
There is a whole raft of physiological benefits associated with plunge pools, ice baths, and hot and cold therapy including reduced inflammation and faster muscle recovery, so it’s important to make it a habit. One important study from Frontiers in Sports and Active living involving national-level volleyball athletes found that that cold water immersion may have a more pronounced benefit over a longer period (16 days) rather than in the acute setting.
4. DO: Have warm clothes ready
The cold is great for recovery, but staying warm afterwards is essential for keeping healthy. Ice baths test your body, so it’s important to keep a change of clothes handy and jump in a warm shower after therapy to get your body back up to speed after a cold plunge.
4 Ice Bath & Cold Plunge Don’ts
1. DON’T: Go it alone
Strength in solidarity. When you’re getting into ice-baths or cold therapy, it’s a great idea to enlist a workout partner or buddy to keep you motivated and positive as the cold kicks in. Work out and recovery in group dynamics has been proven to improve motivation and ensure long-term commitment to training and recovery. Also, it’s just more fun!
2. DON’T: Overdo it on your first time
Progressive overload is a well-known principle in the gym, however, it’s also an important principle to practice when it comes to cold therapy, ice baths, and recovery. Just like anything, your tolerance will increase overtime as your body adapts, so it’s important to practice the principle of progressive overload and not overdo it on your first cold plunge.
3. DON’T: Go when you’re sick
As much as we love routine, it’s important not to ignore your body. Ice bath therapy when you’re sick can place additional stress on your immune system and potentially exacerbate existing symptoms. The shock of cold water increases vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow to vital organs and tissues – which isn’t good for an already stressed body trying to fight infection or sickness.
4. DON’T: Ignore other medical conditions
Ice bath therapy is great for most – but there is a caveat. It’s important to consult medical professional if you have any underlying medical conditions such as immune system disorders, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory conditions. Your GP of consulting medical professional can help to determine if ice bath therapy is right for your and provide you with tips on how you can do it safely.