Embracing the Benefits of Cold Plunging

Elite athletes have been using ice baths and other forms of cold therapy for decades. Ancient societies were interested in cold swimming and cold therapies too. Greek physician Hippocrates praised the soothing powers of icy water. Some Nordic cultures still use cold plunges and winter swimming as key elements of their well-being routines.

What Is a Cold Plunge?

Just like its name suggests, a cold plunge is a therapy where you immerse your body in ice-cold water. You've probably seen "polar bear swims" or other winter aquatic challenges in the news and on social media. These are a natural form of cold therapy. Many people participate in such challenges to raise money for charity, but they can be used intentionally for recovery and healing too.

When you do a cold plunge at Courted Recovery Suite at The St. James, you'll sit in water up to your neck in a temperature-controlled tub of icy water. While cold plunging can be uncomfortable for first-time users, your body will adjust to the sensation with repeated therapy.

Why You Should Cold Plunge in a Controlled Environment

Cold plunging was traditionally completed outside in rivers, lakes, and even the ocean. While polar bear plunges and organized winter swims can be fun, you need to take extra precautions to stay safe in natural water. Why? Temperatures aren't always dependable. You may encounter pockets of cold that are unsafe for your body. If you stay in a cold lake or stream for too long, you run the risk of developing hypothermia.

When you cold plunge at Courted in Springfield or Bethesda, you step into a tank with a temperature calibrated to provide maximum benefits with minimal risks. The temperature throughout the tub is uniform and can be monitored by a Recovery Suite concierge. You also have the advantage of knowing that you're immersing yourself in clean, filtered water free of pollutants. You can even pair a sauna session with a cold plunge for a unique therapeutic experience.

The Benefits of Cold Plunging

Like other forms of cold therapy, cold plunges have many long term physical and mental benefits.

Decreases Inflammation and Pain

One of the greatest physical benefits of cold plunging is a reduction in pain and inflammation immediately following the plunge and for several hours afterward. This is crucial for athletes who want to reduce injury risks following a workout.

Cold plunging is also beneficial for relieving pain caused by inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

Supports Healthy Recovery

The reduction in inflammation from cold plunging affects more than just your pain levels. It also supports a healthy recovery process. When your body is in an inflammatory state, healing and recovery are delayed. Minimizing inflammation helps improve recovery time and reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Your personal trainer can help you design a comprehensive anti-inflammatory recovery program.

Improves Mood

In a study published by the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, researchers report that regularly swimming in cold water improves overall wellbeing. Over time, the study's swimmers reported fewer negative emotions and feeling happier. The researchers hypothesize that these improvements were triggered by endorphins released during cold-water swims.

Boost Protection From Oxidative Stress

Your mom might have told you that getting cold can make you sick, but that's not entirely true. It can actually help you stay healthy by resisting oxidative stress (damage caused to the body by free radicals), unhealthy lifestyle choices, and pollutants.

Dietitians encourage their clients to eat antioxidant foods because the nutrients help reduce damage. Cold plunging can also improve antioxidative protection so that your body is less prone to cell damage and disease. This is why some Nordic cultures swear by cold exposure to fight illness and infection.

female athlete climbing into a cold plunge tub

Is Cold Therapy Safe?

Cold therapy is beneficial for most people. Of course, there are some exceptions. You should talk to your doctor before booking a cold plunge session if:

  • You have a history of cardiovascular problems
  • You have Raynaud's Syndrome
  • You develop hives from cold exposure (known as cold urticaria)
  • You're pregnant

Slipping into an ice-cold plunge tub at the end of your next workout session can help your body recover, relax, and de-stress. Take advantage of everything the cold plunge has to offer by scheduling a cold plunge appointment or getting a Recovery membership for unlimited access to cold plunge and other recovery services. The staff of Courted Recovery Suite, located within the St. James Flagship in Springfield and Performance Club in Bethesda, look forward to supporting your recovery needs.