Cold plunging has been all the rage lately, with fitness enthusiasts and celebrities raving about the benefits of this therapeutic practice. Many people swear by cold plunging, citing many benefits, including improved circulation and reduced inflammation.
If you’re new to the concept, submerging oneself in cold water can be intimidating. That’s why we’ve prepared a guide on how to do cold plunges right.
Whether you’re an athlete looking to speed up recovery or boost your overall health, this article will guide you to enjoy the benefits of cold plunges without discomfort or risk.
How to Prepare for the First Cold Plunge
Before you jump into the cold water, it is essential to prepare yourself adequately. Here are some tips on preparing your body and mind for the refreshing experience of cold plunging.
Take Cold Showers Regularly
The target time for a cold plunge is typically three minutes. However, it’s important to build up to this time gradually. Work up to a five-minute cold shower in the weeks preceding your plunge.
Start at a comfortable temperature and gradually work down to a colder temperature. The more you expose yourself to cold water, the more comfortable your body will become with it, making cold plunging more comfortable.
Cold plunging can cause shivering and hyperventilation, which can lead to dehydration. Thus, staying hydrated before and after the ice bath is crucial. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea at least an hour before you start, and have some warm liquids or soup afterward.
Safety Precautions to Take
Cold plunging can provide numerous health benefits, but taking safety precautions is important to prevent potential risks. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind when cold plunging:
Check the Water Temperature
Before entering the water, check the temperature to ensure it’s safe for cold plunging. The ideal temperature range is typically between 39°F and 60°F. It varies based on your tolerance. Start with a mild temperature, then slowly decrease it until you find the right range.
Don’t Plunge Alone
Always have a friend or family member with you when cold plunging. Having someone close by is especially important if you’re new to cold plunging or have any underlying health conditions that could make you more vulnerable to the cold.
Listen to Your Body
Cold plunging can be an intense experience, and it’s vital to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you’re experiencing severe shivering, numbness, or other negative symptoms, get out of the water and warm up.
If you’re new to cold plunging, start with short durations and gradually work up to longer periods. The gradual process will help your body adjust to the cold and minimize adverse effects.
Avoid Cold Plunging in Certain Conditions
Don’t cold plunge if you have any underlying health conditions, such as heart, respiratory, or circulatory problems. Additionally, avoid cold plunging if you’re pregnant, have a fever, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
How to Set Up and Take the Plunge?
Now that you’re prepared, let’s go over everything you need to set up your cold plunge session, from preparing your post-bath clothing to exiting the bath and warming up.
Prepare Your Post-Bath Clothing and Towel
The first step is ensuring you have comfortable clothing to change into after your cold plunge. You’ll want to wear warm, comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and quickly warm you up. Bring a large towel to dry yourself off, and consider using additional blankets to keep yourself warm after the plunge.
Fill a Tub With Cold Water, Then Add the Ice
Next, fill your tub with cold water. If not, any container that allows you to submerge your body will do. Once you have filled the container, dump in a few bags of ice to lower the temperature. You want the water to be cold but not freezing. The ideal temperature is between 50-60°F.
Do the Wim Hof Breathing Exercises
The Wim Hof breathing method is a popular technique that involves deep, controlled breathing to increase oxygen intake and reduce stress levels.
Before cold plunging, it’s recommended to practice the Wim Hof breathing exercises for about 10-15 minutes to prepare your body for the experience. It will help you regulate your breathing, calm your nerves, and increase your tolerance to cold temperatures.
Set a Timer and Enter the Ice Bath
Now it’s time to take the plunge! Set a timer for your desired time (we recommend starting with just a few minutes) and slowly lower yourself into the ice bath.
Taking time to acclimate to the cold is essential, so don’t rush the process. Take deep breaths and let your body adjust.
Focus on Your Breath
Once you’re in the ice bath, focus on your breath. Slow, deep breaths will help you relax and calm your nervous system. You may notice your heart rate increasing and your body shivering, but these are all normal responses to the cold. Just continue to focus on your breath and remain calm.
Exit the Bath and Warm-up
After some time in the ice bath, slowly emerge and wrap yourself in a warm towel or blanket. You’ll likely experience an after-drop, a phenomenon that can occur after a cold plunge, where your body temperature continues to drop even after you’ve left the cold water. It can cause discomfort and even hypothermia if left untreated.
But you should resist the urge to take a warm bath or shower immediately. It can shock your system and reduce the benefits of the cold plunge. Instead, warm up slowly by wrapping yourself in a warm towel or blanket and sipping hot tea or soup. Moving your body can also help, so try taking a short walk or stretching to regain your temperature.
Cold plunging can seem intimidating, but it is a refreshing and rejuvenating experience with the right preparation. By following the steps in this guide, you can set up and execute a successful ice bath.
Remember to take time to acclimate to the cold, focus on your breath, and warm up your body after the plunge. With consistent practice, you may find that cold plunging is your new favorite wellness ritual.