This summer amongst sipping on lots of delicious ice-cold cocktails, we’ve also been plunging into the latest wellness trend that’s sweeping the world – ice baths! It was back in June when our interest first peaked, after a mind-blowing Wim Hof Fundamentals workshop with our friends at Root2Rise and well, now the rest is history!
Like many others we had our reservations before we gave it a go but after the first plunge we couldn’t deny how much better it made us feel! We know how much harder taking that step would have felt without the guidance of an expert, so we’re here to pass on just a few of the things we’ve learnt to give you the confidence to try it for yourselves. We’re answering some of the most common questions asked before jumping in the ice bath so that hopefully, by the end of this article you’ll be ready to embrace the cold!
How do you prepare for an ice bath?
We’ve found the best results when you practice calm and steady breathing beforehand. We do this by taking a deep breath in, then breathing out for double the time and repeating this throughout the cold-water exposure. This practice seems to make the initial shock of getting into the cold water easier, as the first minute is always the hardest, and by focusing on your breath you’ll be surprised how quickly your body gets used to the cold!
How long should you stay in an ice bath and how cold should my ice bath be?
In order to feel the benefits of cold-water therapy you only need to spend 2 minutes in the ice bath, as scientifically there’s no proof that anything longer than this is any more beneficial! This works best when the ice bath is at optimum temperature between 2°C and 6°C, but anything up to 14°C works to give you results. As a beginner we recommend gradually increasing the time spent in the ice bath over multiple plunges and there’s no shame in starting at 14°C and dropping the temperature as you get more comfortable either!
What’s the best way to warm up after an ice bath?
The best way you can warm up after cold water exposure is slowly and naturally. We know the temptation to jump in a hot shower or just snuggle up under a blanket will be huge, but the most effective way to warm up is by moving your body!
The master himself Wim Hof says to pat yourself dry and move in the “Horse Stance” for at least the same length of time that you spent in the ice bath, and who better to tell you how to do it than Wim himself:
“To get into a horse stance, stand up straight, then spread your feet apart, about one and a half times the width of your shoulders. Make sure that your feet are facing forward, your spine is straight, and your posture is upright and aligned. Now bend your knees into a squat, lowering your upper body as if you were on horseback. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Place your hands on your hips. And hold.
Doing deep breathing will help. I also like to add arm movements and sounds — pushing my right hand away from my body to the left side, then switching to push out with my left hand to the right side, making “Hoo-Hah” sounds as I breathe.”
The squat activates your quads, one of the bodies largest muscles, which helps you to warm up quickly and the motion of twisting from side to side imitates the natural shivering response, all of which also stimulates brown fat and your cardiovascular system too! The “Hoo-Hah!” sounds are also very important as using your voice also helps to warm up your body naturally and gradually.
How often should I get in the ice bath?
This is completely dependent on what works for you! If you’re cold plunging for post-training recovery, taking an ice bath after every session will give you the best results. If you’re motivated by improving your mental and physical health, many find daily ice baths key to managing their stressors but the benefits of a single ice bath can still be felt days after your plunge. We recommend finding a way to regularly incorporate cold plunges into your routine, that could be daily or every couple of days; the best way to see results is always consistency!
Why should I start my day with an ice bath?
Amongst the many benefits of cold-water exposure, ice baths trigger the release of endorphins whilst also alleviating stress, both of which contribute to improving your mood and nurturing a positive headspace from the day ahead. Whilst you still get these benefits no matter what time of day you take the plunge, triggering these responses before you’ve even started your day should put you in the best mindset to handle whatever comes after.
For more insight on the benefits of ice baths, take at one of our other blogs here and make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about all of our ice bath escapades in the future!
Now that you know why you should be starting your day with an ice bath, why not try it for yourself? We’ve developed a passion for cold water therapy here at The Ice Co, so we’ve launched our very own Ice Bath! Treat yourself today on The Ice Co shop and use this guide to help you get started on your journey to better well-being!