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Taking a cold plunge in an ice bath is certainly common in the athletic world, but the benefits may be suitable for any person — but only when performed properly. As Healthline reports, it’s imperative to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish from an ice bath before attempting one, and it’s crucial to be aware of how long you should be taking your plunge (and at what temperature).
Ice baths can assist with a slew of issues, including muscle recovery and inflammation. When it’s especially hot outside, they can come in clutch in terms of cooling you down. If you want to figure out how you can best experience this at home, we’ve rounded up our top picks below!
Best Overall: Sun Home Cold Plunge™ Pro
When it comes to price, value and functionality, this is arguably the best cold plunge bath you can get your hands on! It’s incredibly state-of-the-art and ideal for anyone who wants to create a spa-like oasis in their home. There are two sizes available depending on your needs, and this is a super powerful machine. When you want a therapeutic cold burst to change the course of your day and contribute to your health in the long run, you’ll get exactly what you need with this bath! It’s used by pro athletes in the NBA and NFL. The advanced filtration and sanitization technology ensures you alway have cold, clean water.
Best Inflatable: Sun Home Cold Plunge™
If you’re looking for a high-quality cold tub but also need a space-saving option, this is definitely the one to beat. You can place it indoors or outdoors, and it can also be stowed away easily as it doesn’t require being locked in place. This selection is the only of its kind equipped with a military-grade XL tub and powerful 1HP smart-chiller that’s 3x the power of the closest competitor. Not only does this tub cool down to chilly temps up 37 degrees in just a few minutes, it also has heating capabilities that can top 104 F. Oh yeah, it’s also wifi enabled you can control the operations of the chiller remotely. Need we say more?
Best Affordable Option: NAICID Ice Bath Tub
For a bang for your buck, this tub is a solid option on the market right now. It’s seriously compact but still gives you enough room to fully soak in, and it’s also a great pick for smaller spaces. This tub is fantastic for a beginner who wants to dabble in the benefits of using cold plunge baths for relief!
Best for Commercial Spaces: BlueCube Malibu 66 Cold Plunge
If you’re a spa-owner and want to offer a cold plunge service or feel like splurging, we can highly recommend this option. It boasts a chic design and comes with a variety of top-notch capabilities which will allow you to create a truly personalized experience!
Best for Small Spaces: The Ice Bod Pro Bundle
This space-saver cold plunge tub is arguably one of the best options you can get if you’re working with a smaller home. You can use it both indoors and outdoors, and it can accommodate anyone who’s over 6’9″ — see? They are amazing for athletes!
Best Compact Foldable Option: G Ganen Ice Bath Inflatable Tub
Because you can inflate this tub and its smaller size, this may be the most manageable option for an at-home cold plunge bath experience. Although it may not be the most high-tech from the bunch, it can certainly get the job done at an affordable price!
Benefits of Cold Plunges:
The process of cold immersion, though brief, triggers a series of physiological responses within the body. As the body encounters the sudden drop in temperature, a process called vasoconstriction occurs, wherein blood vessels constrict to preserve heat in the core. This redirection of blood flow can bring about a range of therapeutic benefits, such as:
- a) Improved Circulation: The vasoconstriction-dilation cycle helps enhance blood circulation, flushing out toxins and metabolic waste from the tissues. Regular cold plunges may assist in reducing inflammation and promoting better nutrient delivery to vital organs.
- b) Strengthened Immune System: Studies have shown that regular exposure to cold water can stimulate the production of white blood cells and increase immune activity. As a result, individuals who practice cold plunges regularly may experience a more robust immune response.
- c) Increased Endorphin Release: Cold immersion triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. This hormonal response can lead to reduced stress, anxiety, and an overall sense of well-being.
- Accelerated Muscle Recovery and Reduced Inflammation:
For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, cold plunges can be a game-changer. After intense physical activity, muscles often experience micro-tears, leading to inflammation and soreness. Cold immersion can help in the following ways:
- a) Reduced Muscle Soreness: Cold water immersion, commonly known as cryotherapy, can effectively alleviate post-workout muscle soreness and inflammation. The cold temperatures help constrict blood vessels, reducing the accumulation of lactic acid and preventing excessive inflammation.
- b) Enhanced Muscle Recovery: Cold plunges encourage faster recovery by reducing the time it takes for muscles to repair themselves. Athletes who incorporate cold immersion into their recovery routine may experience improved performance and reduced risk of overuse injuries.
- Mental Health Benefits of Cold Plunges:
Cold plunges not only positively impact the physical body but also provide significant advantages for mental health:
- a) Stress Reduction: The invigorating sensation of cold water triggers the release of noradrenaline, a hormone that plays a role in stress reduction. Regular cold plunges can help individuals cope with everyday stressors more effectively.
- b) Enhanced Mood and Alertness: The release of endorphins during cold immersion leads to increased feelings of happiness and alertness. Cold plunges can serve as a natural mood booster, combating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- c) Improved Resilience to Stress: Regular exposure to cold water induces a process known as hormesis, where the body adapts to mild stressors and becomes more resilient to more substantial stress in the future. This adaptability can enhance an individual’s overall ability to cope with life’s challenges.
- Weight Loss and Metabolic Boost:
Cold plunges can also contribute to weight management and an improved metabolism:
- a) Increased Caloric Expenditure: When exposed to cold temperatures, the body expends additional energy to maintain its core temperature. This process, known as thermogenesis, can lead to an increased caloric burn over time.
- b) Activation of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT): Cold exposure stimulates the activation of brown adipose tissue, a type of fat that burns calories to generate heat. By regularly engaging in cold plunges, individuals may activate and strengthen BAT, promoting a more efficient metabolism.
- Enhanced Skin and Hair Health:
Cold water’s skin benefits have been recognized for centuries. Cold plunges can contribute to the following:
- a) Improved Circulation to the Skin: The vasoconstriction-dilation cycle during cold immersion helps improve blood flow to the skin, promoting a healthy and radiant complexion.
- b) Reduced Pore Size and Tightened Skin: Cold water helps tighten the skin and constrict pores, leading to a smoother appearance and reduced risk of acne breakouts.
- c) Shiny and Strong Hair: Cold water closes the hair cuticles, reducing frizz and increasing shine. Regular cold showers may result in healthier, more lustrous hair.
Incorporating cold plunges into your routine can be a transformative experience, yielding numerous physical and mental health benefits. From improved circulation and accelerated muscle recovery to stress reduction and enhanced mood, the power of cold immersion is undeniable. Embrace the chill and unlock a healthier, happier version of yourself through the simple yet effective practice of cold plunges.
Are you considering the health benefits of an outdoor cold plunge tub or ice bath? Discover the advantages of using one, including improved circulation, reduced inflammation, increased metabolism, and faster recovery from physical exertion. Cold water immersion can also aid in stress reduction and promote overall well-being.
Cold Plunge FAQs:
Choosing the right size for your outdoor cold plunge tub or ice bath is essential. Consider your preferences, whether you’d like to lay down or stand, the number of users at once, and the available space in your yard area.
Maintaining an outdoor cold plunge tub is crucial for its longevity and hygiene. If there’s no filtration system, follow approved chemical sanitation methods and clean it regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and algae. For tubs with sanitation and filtration systems, consult the manufacturer for specific maintenance requirements, including regular filter changes and water replacement based on usage frequency. Additionally, use a skimmer to remove debris from the tub and cover it when not in use to prevent outdoor contaminants.
When it comes to materials, choose wisely to enhance durability, maintenance, and aesthetics. Common options include cedar wood, stainless steel, and acrylic. Wood offers a natural look, while stainless steel and acrylic are more durable and low-maintenance.
As for the cost, outdoor cold plunge tubs vary based on size, material, and features. Smaller tubs made of less expensive materials can cost a few thousand dollars, while larger, advanced models can reach tens of thousands. Prioritize research and price comparisons to ensure the best value for your budget. Alternatively, you can explore low-budget solutions like using basic durable containers (e.g., Rubbermaid stock tanks) or existing water features in your yard for a cold plunge experience.
- Peake, J. M., & Roberts, L. A. (2017). “The effects of cold water immersion and active recovery on inflammation and cell stress responses in human skeletal muscle after resistance exercise:. The Journal of Physiology, 595(3), 695-711. Retrieved from https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1113/JP272881
- Leppäluoto, J., Westerlund, T., Huttunen, P., Oksa, J., & Smolander, J. (2008). “Effects of long‐term whole‐body cold exposures on plasma concentrations of ACTH, beta‐endorphin, cortisol, catecholamines and cytokines in healthy females”. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, 68(2), 145-153. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00365510701516350
- Gonzalez, S., Moreno, M. E., & Ramirez, C. (2018). “Influence of Cold Water Immersion Therapy on the Immune Response of Exercise-Trained Mice”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 46. Retrieved from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0246-z
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