What is the Cold Plunge: Benefits & Meaning | Sports Recovery

What is the Cold Plunge: Benefits & Meaning

athlete in cold plunge bath

What is a cold plunge? Also known as cold water immersion, it is a key part of sports recovery protocol. A cold plunge—meaning a full immersion in 51-degree water—activates the body’s ability to heal itself. The cold plunge is very effective at helping sore muscles to recover more quickly after a tough workout, but it’s not just for athletes! The possible benefits of cold plunge are wide-ranging. You might consider CWI if you are hoping to:

  • Reduce symptoms from chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatism
  • Reduce inflammation after exercise
  • Boost your metabolism and kick-start weight loss
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve the quality of your sleep
  • Treat dry skin or greasy hair
  • Increase dopamine

Looking for more info about CWI or how long to cold plunge to maximize the benefits? Below, IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery takes a closer look at what a cold plunge could mean for you and your health.

How Long to Cold Plunge

How long to cold plunge depends on your experience with cold water immersion therapy. If you’re just starting out, there’s no reason to imitate what you may have seen on social media; instead, we recommend lowering yourself into the water slowly and staying there for one to two minutes. From there, you can work your way up to a max immersion time of 10 to 15 minutes. 

That said, the benefits of a cold plunge will vary depending on factors other than how long you spend in the cold plunge, including the exact temperature of the water and the method. Jumping in the ocean, taking a cold shower, and sitting in an immersion bath all offer positive effects when performed safely.

Benefits of Cold Plunge Therapy

It’s for good reason that the CWI trend has taken off with no signs of slowing down—the benefits are certainly impressive! But what is a cold plunge doing for your body, and why does it work? Cold water immersion can: 

  • Slow down nerve signals to reduce pain perception
  • Lower your heart rate and reduce stress hormone production
  • Increase circulation by boosting blood oxygen levels (when paired with contrast water baths)
  • Remove toxins, reduce swelling, and normalize adrenaline production 
  • Strengthen the immune system

Discover the Benefits of Cold Plunge Therapy Today

Whether you’re interested in our full three-step recovery protocol or are just beginning to explore the benefits of CWI, let us know! Request an appointment at one of our Chicagoland locations to learn more. CWI is only available at 5 of our Chicagoland locations.