There are a lot of tips and recommendations for using an Ice Bath on the internet which can be time consuming to trawl, difficult to navigate and make sense of. Emperor have compiled a digestible list below for you of the top ten tips for beginners using an Ice Bath, both in terms of safety and to maximise the benefits and experience of your Ice Bath.

Easy does it 

Start exposing yourself to cooler temperatures slowly, such as a cold shower or swimming in a lake or sea. Then progress to sitting in a cold bath at home which is a good way to practice Cold Water Therapy (CWT). Simply filling a bath with cold tap water should be sufficient to begin with. 

After having your normal shower in warm water, turn the shower to the cold setting and stand under the water for one minute before getting out. Next time, try standing under the water for two minutes. The time after that, try having a cold shower for a few minutes without starting with warm water. 

Before you know it you will become accustomed to the cold and be ready for your first Ice Bath.

One body part at a time 

Whole-body immersion is definitely most effective. However, if you’re new to ice baths, try one body part at a time (never headfirst!). Start with one arm or just your legs and feet. Then work up to your chest as you get more comfortable with Ice Baths. 

By gradually desensitising yourself to colder temperatures, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your Ice Bath with less discomfort and more ease. Just remember to listen to your body and stop if you experience any discomfort or pain.  

Unless you’ve been practicing cold exposure for a long time already, don’t start at less than 5°C. Do not push your body too far and too fast.

Start somewhere between 10-15°C degrees, and drop it a degree every week or so that you’re able to complete at least 2 minutes of a cold plunge. Even at 15°C, you’ll get some of the anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Breathe with Intention! 

With the initial shock of the cold on the system, your breathing is your greatest anchor. A good goal is to work toward 5-8 breaths per minute to help your body and mind relax by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). 

  1. Before entering your ice bath, take a few intentional breaths (in through the nose), and then enter on an exhale. 
  2. Focus on your breathing (in through the nose!), and quiet your mind. 
  3. Simply count your breaths and connect with your body as it regulates your temperature. 

Dunk Your Head Right Away 

Right after you enter the tub, dunk your head all the way under the water. This sends a powerful signal to your system and will help speed up warming regulation in the body, which makes the cold more bearable, more quickly. 

Submerge to the Neck 

You want to be submerged deep enough so that the upper part of your neck is fully in the water, which will more fully activate the vagus nerve to enable a fuller hormonal response and maximising benefits. 

Plunge With Friends!  

Humans are more resilient when doing hard things in front of other humans. Ideally do your Ice Bath with a friend or family member nearby. 

Talking to someone can help you to remain calm and take your mind off the cold temperature of the water. 

Additionally, if you have someone with you, they can help you get out safely and give you peace of mind particularly if you are a newbie. 

If you don’t have anyone to plunge with, it can help to know you’re a part of a larger community. Join our Instagram community of plunges so you are not alone! We’d love to see your pictures and videos too (just tag us so we can re share!). 

Keep your cold immersions short 

A few minutes in an Ice Bath a day is all you need to enjoy the full health benefits. Staying in longer than 5 minutes can be helpful for willpower and mental toughness, but there’s no scientific research evidencing any benefits beyond that. 

Listen to music 

If you’re a beginner and or not mentally prepared for an Ice Bath and how it feels, you’ll need to be able to focus on more than the cold. Listening to music can help gear you up for the plunge and singing along can help take your mind off the cold. 

Help your body warm up after your Ice Bath 

Depending on the length and intensity of your plunge, your body temperature may continue dropping after getting out of the water. The following steps can help you warm up safely: 

  • Remove wet clothes and dry yourself off 
  • Walk around and do gentle movements/stretches to raise your body temperature 
  • Do not take a hot shower immediately after exposure 
  • Put on gloves and a hat 
  • Drink a warm beverage 
  • Eat something sweet because sugar increases the body temperature 
  • Dress in dry, warm layers. Start by covering the upper body
  • Focus on slow deep breathing 

End on a cold note 

To unlock the full benefits of your Ice Bath, it’s better to let your body warm up naturally rather than rely on external influences such as a sauna or hot shower.   

If you’re doing hot/cold therapy, you’ll probably be tempted to end with heat. Try to always end with COLD. This will both stimulate your metabolism and activate brown fat to generate heat to warm you up. 

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Tips On CWT

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