Why are people obsessed with painful cold plunges and ice baths
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Cold therapy has been used since the ancient times but interestingly there has there been a 900% increase in Google searches for cold plunges and ice baths in the last few years (1).
One of the reasons for this is the overwhelming science and research illuminating the cold hard facts, pun intended, related to its benefits (2). Here in Austin Texas at Cryo Body Works we began in 2014 offering cryotherapy and cold plunges but at that time, cold plunges and ice baths were perhaps too extreme for the average person. Most of the time athletes were the only ones primarily using these therapies because of their severe performance and recovery needs. Cryotherapy became the perfect way to receive many of the benefits but with a far more comfortable experience. Times have changed however, and people are beginning to get used to the cold water of ice baths and cold plunges. In fact, people are becoming cult-like over the practice and crave its effects. One of the biggest influencers on the topic has been Wim Hof who has notoriously demonstrated his extremist cold exposure practices mixed with Tummo breath work originally developed by Tibetan Monks to activate superhuman nervous system health benefits (3). Cryotherapy has also grown immensely globally as well. Joe Rogan, one of the most well known public figures has long been a fan of cryotherapy and is now venturing into ice baths for the first time. His millions of followers are surely being influenced from this as well. Another avid cold water specialist and inspiring figure of extremist performance, perseverance, and health has been David Goggins. In terms of the stress people have been dealing with during these challenging times it's no wonder people seek more powerful ways to manage and overcome stress. Cold therapy such as polar bear plunges is a natural tried and true way to reinvigorate our mind, body, and spirit. If you frequently visit Barton Springs in Austin you'll absolutely love going to the next level with our cryotherapy and cold plunges at Cryo Body Works.
So what exactly are the benefits of cold plunging?
In today's health environment, finding natural ways to increase your immune function is incredibly important. It's not surprising that people are considering ice baths and cold plunges for this reason. "A plunge in frigid water causes your lymph vessels to contract, which forces your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body. The flushing of fluid triggers the white blood cells to attack any foreign bodies in the body. Cytokines and other chemicals that boost the immune system receive a release in cold plunging. According to this study (4), cold water baths have shown to stimulate the lymphatic and immune system, which helps in boosting the production of infection-fighting cells thereby increasing your immunity. This same study found that people who take cold showers are 29% less likely to call in sick for work or school."
Improves the body’s antioxidant capacity and increases white blood count
"A study from England found that those who took daily cold showers had increased numbers of disease-fighting white blood cells (compared to people who took hot showers). The investigators at Britain’s Thrombosis Research Institute suggested that as the body tries to warm itself during and after a cold shower, metabolic rate speeds up and activates the immune system, which leads to the release of more white blood cells. And, according to a German study, consistency is essential! Those who only participated in an occasional winter swim in cold water had increased oxidative stress, but, done regularly, such swimming leads to an adaptive antioxidant response. Those who regularly partook in cold water swims had bodies better equipped to combat oxidative stress in general once they were accustomed to cold-water swims."
Good for the nervous system
"Nerves in the autonomic nervous system are activated during the cold plunge immersion. The cold also stimulates you to take deeper breaths, decreasing the level of CO2 throughout the body, helping you concentrate. Also, studiesshow that the increase in fat burning during cold exposure is modulated by the sympathetic nervous system. Cold temperatures act as a mild “workout” for the nervous system, which adapts and strengthens."
Aids at fat-burning, regulating blood sugar, and weight loss
With 42.4% of American's obese this is an obvious easy solution to helping reduce the problem. "One study (5) found adiponectin levels increase by 70% after cold exposure. Adiponectin is a protein involved in blood glucose regulation, with low levels often found in insulin resistance. In another study (6), subjects who were exposed to cold stress had an 80% increase in their metabolism over “warm” levels. Studies (7) also show that cold exposure increases Brown Adipose Tissue activity, which leads to increased calorie expenditure. Researchers concluded that frequent cold exposures might be an acceptable and economical complementary approach to address the current obesity epidemic."
Can improve lung health
"Your lung function improves tremendously when you take a plunge in cold water suggests a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences. That feeling of breathlessness you get when you take a plunge into cold water is what improves your lung function. When you hold your breath each time you take a plunge and slowly release your breath, you improve your lung function."
Can help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis
"For those with rheumatoid arthritis, taking a cold shower after a sauna has been shown (8) to reduce pain and improve circulation which can help minimize symptoms throughout the remainder of the day."
Dramatically helps improve circulation
"As cold water hits your body and external limbs, it constricts circulation on the surface of your body. This causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature." Afterwards there is a surge of bloodflow from activated hormone production and anti-inflammatory proteins.
Good for willpower and conquering fears
"Let’s face it, the first few seconds of a cold plunge are tough, but powering through can work wonders at training your brain. Getting into freezing cold water every day trains the brain to do things it otherwise wouldn’t. This positive attitude could then translate to other areas of your life!"
Great for mental health and mood
"As the cold water envelops the entire body, norepinephrine, an anti-stress hormone and neurotransmitter, and epinephrine/adrenaline are released which is what makes you feel so invigorated! Several studies (8) are now being conducted on using cold water therapy and cold showers to help treat depression. For example, this small study (9) showed that the cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively. In addition, this 2007 study (10) found evidence that cold showers can help treat depression symptoms, and, if used regularly, might even be more effective than prescription antidepressants!"
If you still have questions or are you curious enough to book your first appointment? Give us a call or stop in anytime we’re open (hours and location are posted below) and our friendly, well-informed staff can answer your questions and advise you on making your first appointment. You can also email us at: email@example.com
We look forward to helping you!
Cryo Body Works
(512) 522 0221
3501 Hyridge Dr
Austin, TX 78759
Mon - Fri 10AM – 7PM
Sat 11AM - 5PM
Sun 12PM - 4PM