There are plenty of reasons to regularly take ice baths. Cold water immersion can ease aches and pains, boost your mood and energy levels, and reduce depression, anxiety and stress.
But getting into cold water can be difficult, especially if you’re particularly sensitive to cold.
At Ice Barrel, we recommend a full-body ice bath (up to your neck) for at least two minutes in water that is below 60 degrees to reap the full benefits of cold therapy. We also encourage each individual to listen to their body, experiment and find what works best for them.
Tips for easing into your ice bath
If you’re looking for a less intense experience, try some of these modifications to make your ice bath more comfortable.
Start partial body
Submerging as much of your body as possible will give you maximum benefit from your ice bath. But if you’re looking for local relief (specific to certain parts of your body), you can still get some benefit from exposing just those body parts to the cold.
Partial-body ice baths could be:
- Hands and arms
- Legs and feet
- Up to your waist
If you want to build your practice over time, partial body ice baths can be a great way to build up your tolerance. Start with only your legs in the ice bath, then move up to your waist and eventually your shoulders and full body
Start with smaller amounts of time
We recommend spending at least two minutes in your ice bath, but that doesn’t have to be your starting point.
If you can tolerate just one minute in the ice bath, that’s a solid start! If 30 seconds is all you can handle, that’s also a great starting point.
Listen to your body. Taking an ice bath is challenging and can be uncomfortable, but you’re in control of the experience and can end your ice bath at any time if it feels like you’re pushing yourself too hard.
If even that seems like too much, try fully submerging in the ice bath and counting your breaths. Take 3-10 slow, deep breaths and build from there.
Skip the ice
Ice baths with ice can be a fun and primal way to experience cold water. But if you’re sensitive to cold, skip the cubes while your body slowly adapts to the cold.
Depending on your climate and the season, you might find that water straight from the tap is cold enough. Many times, water from the hose comes out at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or even colder.
Keep in mind, water below 60 degrees is considered therapeutic, so you’re getting a great benefit from water in the 50- to 60-degree range.
If you’re very sensitive to the cold, you can even start with water that’s lukewarm and gradually lower the temperature over time.
Ask for support
At Ice Barrel, we’re big fans of sharing your ice bath experience with a friend. Having someone who can emotionally or physically support you through your first few ice baths can be a huge benefit if you’re struggling with the cold.
Ask a friend or family member to stand by and talk you through it or even hold your hands while you’re in the ice bath. A little support and encouragement can go a long way.
Do ice baths get easier?
The good news is that your body will adapt to cold exposure and, over time, you are likely to find it easier to tolerate cold water.
Everybody is unique. Find what works for you and your body, and don’t forget to celebrate your progress along the way.
Jul 7, 2023
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