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So you’re interested in cold plunging as a potential tool to help you recover for exercise? Or maybe you have been seeing a bunch of videos online about why you should do a cold plunge. Well, in this article, we tell you why to do a cold plunge and the benefits that it has on athletes and health enthusiasts around the world.
Let’s dive in!
Why Do A Cold Plunge?
Cold plunges are all the hype in a health and wellness space right now. We are constantly seeing more wellness centers pop up as well as many health enthusiasts promoting the benefits of cold plunging to people on apps like Tik Tok or Instagram. Unless you have been living under a rock, it’s hard to not even know what it is!
At the Grapplers Graveyard, we have become experts on the topic through first-hand experience and intense amounts of research. We have gone and done the work for you so you can find all the best information on cold plunging in one spot.
Yes, we are a site mainly about BJJ, MMA, and other grappling-related sports like wrestling but we will also become the world’s leaders for recovery items so athletes and health enthusiasts can feel comfort in knowing that they can participate in whatever sport they want and have the knowledge to give their bodies what it needs!
Here is why you should do a cold plunge in the first place:
New Way to Recover
New things are good to try out! While the term ‘ cold plunging‘ is still pretty new the real practice of cold water therapy (most known in athletics for ice baths) is something that has been around for decades. The practice has been around sports related spaces for so long but it’s just now hitting the masses.
There are a million ways to recover from workouts today. CBD, massage guns, foam rollers, and saunas are all great ways to speed up the recovery process after intense levels of exercise. Cold water immersion is just another piece to that puzzle. There are plenty of studies backing up the benefits that can be found from as little as 60 seconds of being submerged in cold water.
Cold plunging makes recovery easy. Actually owning a cold plunge device makes the practice very accessible. While the cold plunge devices themselves may be on the more expensive side, once you get over that initial investment the maintenance of the tub you end up going with is very minimal.
Cold exposure has seriously never been easier to get access to with the commercialization of cold plunge devices. Most of the items on the market range in price but you can see a huge gap in quality when you look at the most affordable cold plunges versus some of the best cold plunges on the market.
Increase Energy & Increase Mood
Cold plunging has a number of health benefits that make the practice exciting for people. The first thing you will notice when you start your cold plunging journey is how shockingly cold the water temperature is. Even if you do not go down to the coldest temperatures, chances are your body is not used to water being anywhere between 45°F – 55°F.
After getting out of the cold plunge tub you will notice that throughout your day your energy levels will be high and this is for a reason. Czech researchers found that our dopamine levels (the happy chemical in our bodies naturally produce) can rise as high as 250% over a 6-hour time period.
Not only are you getting a great mental challenge while cold plunging but you are also naturally increasing a chemical in your brain!
Cold Plunges Speed up Exercise Recovery
Ice baths have to been used by athletes for decades now to help speed up the recovery process after exercise. We are seeing the world become more health conscious as we speak, as more people begin to train more like athletes the importance of recovery will only increase.
We are under the belief that MMA and jiu-jitsu have what it takes to be two of the largest sports in the world over the coming decade. Muscle soreness and muscle recovery for athletes that train in these sports is very important since the risk of injury is still relatively high.
Even if you are not a grappling athlete, cold plunges still serve a great purpose in your overall health journey and should be added to your routine so you can stay at your peak!
Improves Blood Circulation & Reduces Inflammation
There is evidence that shows that cold plunges also help with blood circulation but the complete understanding of it is still evolving and not fully conclusive, this is what we know now.
Vasoconstriction and Vasodilation
When your body is exposed to cold water, your blood vessels constrict (vasoconstriction) in response to the cold (source). This is a natural reaction our bodies have when trying to preserve body heat. Once you exit the cold water, your blood vessels dilate (vasodilation) as your body attempts to return to normal temperature.
Andrew Huberman, a Stanford Neuroscientist who has studied the effects of cold water immersion, says the best way to cold plunge is by staying in until you are about to shiver, get out of the cold plunge to war back up, then get right back in. This helps maximize the benefits that cold water immersion can have on both your body and mind.
Cold exposure has been associated with a reduction in inflammation. Chronic inflammation can contribute to various cardiovascular and circulatory issues. By reducing inflammation, cold therapy might indirectly improve blood circulation.
It is still important to note that the evidence supporting the benefits cold plunging has on blood circulation is still limited and more research is needed. Cold water immersion may not be suitable for everyone and you should carefully weigh the risks if you have an underlying health condition or are pregnant.
Build Resilience & Improves Your Discipline
Building resilience and improving your discipline is something we always try to run towards. As a martial artist, this is something that is extremely important to us. Any athlete that is looking to take their craft seriously should be taking active steps to improve this part of their life.
Building up resilience or improving discipline is such an important thing to do. Cold plunging is not something that is easy, in most cases it is something that we personally don’t want to do in the moment but we end up doing it because we know what lies on the other side.
On the other side of discomfort is growth and cold plunging can be a great way for each one of us to get that exposure to challenges in our daily life. Even if you cannot afford a tub right now, cold showers are still a great way to get your toes wet with the practice.
Improves Your Sleep & Decreases Stress Levels
Cold plunging may have an indirect impact on our sleep quality. Since cold water immersion decreases stress levels, it can contribute to an improved quality of sleep. Lower amounts of stress make it easier for you to relax at night and help reduce anxiety levels that might interfere with your sleep.
Potential Risks of Cold Plunging
The risks of cold plunges have been outlined in a separate article we have written that can be found here.
You should consult with a medical professional if you have underlying heart problems, are susceptible to getting hypothermia easier than other people, are elderly, or are pregnant. The practice itself is not dangerous for most people.
If you are training regularly, are active, and have no health issues cold plunging is safe. You will benefit most from getting a couple of minutes of cold water exposure daily or at least 5 times a week! if you end up adopting the practice into your routine it is important to build a consistent habit with it.
Tips to Make Your First Cold Plunge or Ice Bath a Success
Go into the practice knowing you will be pushed mentally and physically
A complete beginner should shoot for 1 minute (if you can’t get there work your way up)
Don’t start out with the coldest water temperature (45°F – 55°F is ideal)
Use music and timers
Focus on getting your breath under control after the initial shock you may experience
All in all, you should try out cold plunging for yourself. As we stated earlier the practice is growing in popularity and has been proven to help with a number of body functions. For those that want to take their health to the next level, cold water immersion is a must-add to your routine. We have been submerging in cold water for years now and even have people on our team that do the practice regularly, it has been extremely beneficial to our recovery process and keeps us from taking time off the mats.