The beauty of combining sauna and cold immersion therapy is, together, they can accentuate the positive effects of the other!
But what is cold immersion therapy? And what are those positive effects?
Let’s answer those questions.
Benefits of Sauna and Cold Plunge Therapy
The truth is, there is a lot to cover concerning the benefits of saunas and cold immersion therapy. Here is a list of just a few important ones.
Improved Blood Circulation
Cold immersion therapy forces your heart to pump blood to your vital organs when you jump into an ice-laden bath. Once you emerge from the freezing temperature, your blood flow regulates and starts moving around to your muscles and extremities again.
Oxygenating your cells, organs, and muscles through better circulation improves the immune system and organ function.
One study showed higher white blood cell count and fewer flu symptoms in individuals who participated in cold water treatment as opposed to those who weren’t exposed to cold water therapy.
Muscle Strength and Endurance
Did you push your body hard during an intense workout or exercise? Now you’re fatigued and achy?
Cold water hydrotherapy has been praised by athletes whose muscles naturally become inflamed post-exercise.
This, in addition to the fluid build-up in the body, can restrict you from getting back on your feet quickly.
Ice water therapy has been confirmed to decrease muscle soreness and inflammation and ensure a speedier recovery! Not only that, but a cold water bath or plunge improves overall strength, endurance, and aerobic exercise performance over time.
Stress Management and Improved Mental Health
Cold immersion therapy can also be termed cold shock therapy. This rapid change in temperature (perhaps from an infrared sauna to an ice bath) sends your body into a state of shock, inducing stress.
This may seem counterintuitive. However, exposing yourself to this stress aids both your body and mind to adapt to managing stress more effectively in the long run.
Cold immersion therapy activates and regulates your nervous system. This can improve alertness, concentration, and focus.
Cold water training is not for the faint-hearted! Your mental health will improve due to the resulting feelings of accomplishment.
The endorphins and dopamine that flow through you will make depression and anxiety a thing of the past!
Is it Safe to Go from the Sauna to an Ice Bath?
There are as many sauna benefits as there are ice bath benefits. But combining the two will truly enhance the healthy positive impacts listed above.
Wake up your body and mind by moving to the ice bath within at least two hours of your sauna session. The rapid change from hot to cold helps with circulation, weight management, and stress relief.
Your skin will also thank you! The sauna skin benefits include opening up and cleansing your pores. Then the cold water therapy reduces pore size and tightens your skin so toxins and impurities can’t get back in.
How Long Should You Ice Bath After Sauna?
Our suggestion is to start slow with this extreme activity. Gradually work your way up from a cold shower after your sauna session for 30 seconds, then one minute, then two minutes.
Once you’ve progressed from a cold shower to an ice bath, a good 10-15 minutes prior in a dry or wet sauna is reasonable. Follow this up with a full-body (neck down) ice bath submersion. We recommend starting with three to five minutes in a 50-59°F cold therapy bath right in your home.
You’ll probably want to extend your time once you gain confidence. Make sure you stick between five and ten minutes. Soaking in cold water for longer than 15 minutes puts you at risk for hypothermia.
How Often Should You Do Cold Water Immersion Therapy?
Pace yourself with cold water immersion and do what feels right. Remember, this is not a punishment for your body!
Athletes like to do cold water therapy once a week, generally after a big event.
If you combine the sauna and cold water immersion, the general rule is to do it two or three times weekly. Make sure to breathe mindfully and purposefully to immerse yourself in the experience.
To sum it up, sauna to ice bath or cold plunge can significantly optimize your physical and mental health and capabilities.
So, hop right in and wake up your senses!