In This Article:
Are cold plunges dangerous? The simple answer to this question is no. There is very minimal risk associated with the practice of cold plunging if you follow guides on how to do them properly and avoid getting in water that is just too cold. In this article, we expand on this topic and more.
Are Cold Plunges Dangerous?
Cold plunges, also known as cold water immersion or ice baths, involve immersing our bodies in cold water that ranges in temperatures from 35°F – 55°F. These plunges are often used by health enthusiasts and athletes for things like recovery, reducing muscle soreness, and boosting overall mental well-being. It is only when the water is truly cold and when your body is not used to cold therapy that cold plunges can be dangerous. Otherwise, there is minimal risk associated with adding the practice to your everyday routine.
If you are a complete beginner to the cold plunging practice we have guides on our website on how to cold plunge and how long you should cold plunge. You do not need to start off in the coldest temperature of water and stay in for a long period of time to start reaping the health benefits of cold water immersion.
Research has shown that as little as 30, 60, or 90 seconds with consistency can start to positively impact those that take on the practice.
Here are the Risks Associated With Cold Plunging
if you are one of those types that like to “mess around and find out” for yourself rather than adhering to the advice above here is what you could risk:
Hypothermia: Prolonged periods of time spent in your cold plunge can lead to hypothermia if you are cold plunging in water that is way too cold. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, and loss of coordination.
Cardiovascular Stress: Immersing your body in cold water will be a shocking experience at first. If the water is truly too cold those with heart conditions may want to start in higher temperatures.
Respiratory Issues: We always tell people to focus on their breathing when they start cold plunging. The sudden gasp or shock may be overwhelming and uncomfortable at first but over time you will get used to it.
Shock and Stress
Individual Variability: Everyone is different and may have a different reaction to the practice. If you have an underlying condition or are pregnant please consult with a licensed medical professional.
It should be noted it takes very cold temperatures for our bodies to react in the ways listed above. This is not a common thing to have happen but for those that want to get into cold immersion, it is important to weigh the risks as well as the pros and cons.
What Is a Cold Plunge?
A cold plunge is a practice that involves immersing our bodies in cold water for a short period of time. Studies have shown that cold water immersion has a number of benefits to various physiological and psychological functions for our bodies.
Professional athletes have been using the practice for decades to help improve muscle recovery times and alleviate muscle soreness after intense exercise. The potential benefits of cold water immersion far outweigh the risks in our opinion, especially if you are a healthy individual who just wants to optimize your body to the best of its capabilities.
Health Benefits Cold Plunge
Here is a list of benefits that have been linked to the practice of cold plunging:
A better way to combat muscle soreness
Promotes weight loss
Build mental fortitude
An active recovery tool that helps with mental health
Potential Risks of Cold Plunging
While there are benefits that are associated with cold plunging you also should be well aware of the risks. In a separate article, we answered the question ‘are cold plunges risky‘. In the above paragraphs, we also laid out the main risks associated with cold plunging but in case you want them again here you go:
Cold Shock Response
The shock from the initial temperatures of the water is going to take some getting used to. We advise you to start at temperatures that are not too cold but not too warm. Somewhere around 50°F is a good place to start if you are brand new.
We personally believe that you should use the practice of cold plunging as a way to not only boost recovery time but as a practice to work on mental toughness. In life, we will have to do many things that are painful in the beginning or maybe even down right uncomfortable, cold plunging can be a great way to build up your mental toughness and help you overcome the limiting belief that comes into your head at these moments.
It is very easy to just skip out on things, especially when no one is looking. But you are not one of those people. People that read our blog and are interested in the things we talk about are a rare breed of individuals that are meant for more.
Some will say we are stretching here but to those people that say that we just say they are not our people.
Hypothermia: The Biggest Risk of Swimming in Cold Water
The biggest risk you run while cold plunging if going to be hypothermia. it is so easy to not have this happen ad we will lay it out for you point blank and simple.
Listen to your body and don’t stay in the cold water for too long.
Don’t go off being a hero that decides to stay in cold water while they are literally shivering and experiencing the symptoms of hypothermia. That is both unintelligent and going to cause you more damage in the long run.
Cold plunges are supposed to help us reach our peak, not take us away! Use them properly.