The Benefits of Cold Plunge

May 16, 2024

The Benefits of Cold Plunge

If you’ve spent any time on the internet as of late or are living in the world of wellness like us, you have likely heard of cold plunging. It is exactly what it sounds like: you plunge into frigid cold water in a tub or a body of water like a lake or the ocean. And why would anyone put themselves through something so profoundly uncomfortable? You already know it: the positive effects is might have on the body, of course! We decided to try it and compare it to a refreshing, brisk winter day. Turns out cold water is an excellent way to rejuvenate!

We’re not going to sugarcoat it. It does take a moment to get used to, depending on your tolerance for discomfort. But we promise the way it makes you feel is so worth it! Read on to find out why we think it’s worth the hype.

The Benefits of Cold Plunge

What is cold plunge therapy?

A cold plunge or cold-water immersion involves partially or totally submerging yourself in cold water for a few minutes at a time. It can be as simple as sitting in a bathtub filled with cold water and ice cubes or jumping into a freezing lake or the ocean. You could also go to a cold-plunge center or buy your own cold-plunge tank.

To do it properly, 10-15 degrees Celsius is the recommended ideal cold plunge temperature.

The plunge can be done in one continuous session or multiple sessions with breaks between them. Typically, cold-water plungers start with 30 seconds to a minute and work up to five to ten minutes at a time. Research is still determining the optimum process and timing for cold-water immersion sessions but we are personally happy if we can make it to a minute!

You can cold plunge every day, but, if you’re doing it after training, daily plunges could compromise the potential for long-term performance improvements. So make sure you add it into your routine in a way that aligns with your lifestyle.

Before we get into the benefits, we have to lay down the fascinating internal effects of it all.

Cold Shock Proteins

What are cold shock proteins, and what do they have to do with cold plunge? The body produces proteins in response to certain stressors, including hot and cold temperatures. A major function of these stress proteins is protecting your cells from toxic stress. Cold shock proteins are a group of stress proteins that can be activated by cold exposure. Research suggests they can be released when you’re a little cooler than the average body temperature of 37°C (98.6°F). While heat shock proteins require entering heat stress, cold shock proteins don’t require going into cold shock (also known as hypothermia).

These proteins may promote muscle growth and recovery, so it’s no wonder that cold therapy is popular with athletes. Cold shock proteins may also help you maintain your muscle mass during rest periods, for instance, if you can’t make it to the gym or take a break from training.

Some cold shock proteins are known to help decrease inflammation and support faster wound healing. That’s why cold therapy can be an effective support for people with a variety of conditions.

How to Activate Your Cold Shock Proteins

There are many ways to lower your body temperature and activate cold shock proteins. You could exercise in cold weather, take a cold shower, or practice colder water immersion, a.k.a. cold plunge! A short plunge in cold water activates your body’s healthy stress response and helps you release beneficial cold shock proteins.

Now, onto the good stuff.

The Potential Health Benefits of Cold Plunge

It’s important to note that research is ongoing, but so far, some studies indicate that cold water therapy may offer several health benefits by reducing your body temperature and increasing circulation.

  1. May Help to Relieve Pain. Ice application is known to narrow blood vessels, which helps reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation after an injury. Research also shows that when cold water hits cold receptors on your skin, it sends electrical impulses to the brain that have a pain-reducing effect.
  2. May Help to Reduce Muscle Soreness. A review of 32 randomized controlled trials found that cold-water immersion one hour after exercise helped reduce muscle pain and improve muscle recovery for up to 24 hours.
  3. May Help Boost Mood and Alertness. Some research shows that cold-water immersion may improve your mood. One 2022 study found that people who took a 20-minute soak in 55-degree seawater had significantly improved self-esteem and decreased tension and anger. People who soaked for 18 minutes had similar results.
  4. May Help Build Your Resilience. One of the main benefits of a cold plunge is training your vagus nerve. As the vagus nerve is linked with the parasympathetic nervous system, training it can help you face stressful situations more easily.

Worth the Chill

Overall, research points to some evidence that frigid water may reduce inflammation, make you mentally stronger, keep your nervous system in check and improve your mood. Just as a chilly winter’s day demands your patience, so does the cold plunge. It shows you how much you can handle and leaves you feeling revitalized and alive. With a rush of adrenaline and a surge of endorphins, the cold becomes your body’s best friend! Try it and see for yourself.


Cold-water plunging health benefits – Mayo Clinic Health System.

Guide to Heat Shock Proteins and Cold Shock Proteins | Ice Barrel.

Ice Bath: Benefits, Risks, Tips – ExBulletin.