Science > Cold Plunge Safety

Cold Plunge Safety

Last Updated Jan 13, 2024

What safety precautions should you take when cold plunging?

Cold plunging and ice baths have been making waves in the wellness and biohacking world lately. Touted as a health-promoting activity, it enhances mental clarity, reduces inflammation, improves cardiovascular health, and elevates mood. However, like any wellness practice, safety should always come first. Below are some safety precautions to consider before jumping into the cold plunge.

  1. Medical Clearance: It is crucial to consult your healthcare provider before starting cold plunge therapy. Certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Raynaud’s disease, and respiratory conditions, may pose additional risks during cold water immersion. Pregnancy and old age are also factors to consider. If in doubt, always get medical clearance first.
  2. Gradual Adaptation: Do not jump right into ice-cold water if you’re a beginner. Start with lukewarm water and gradually lower the temperature as your body adjusts to the new sensation. This gradual adaptation is important to avoid any shock to your system, which can lead to hypothermia or cardiovascular stress. Check out our guide for getting started.
  3. Time Limit: The recommended time for a cold plunge varies according to the water temperature. For water between 50-59°F (10-15°C), the maximum suggested time is 10 minutes. For lower temperatures, it should be even less. Regularly check your body’s response and don’t push it to the limit. Less is often more when it comes to cold therapy.
  4. Buddy System: Especially in the beginning, it’s wise to cold plunge with a partner. Hyperventilation or panic can set in quickly in icy water, and having someone there ensures you’re not alone if things go south.
  5. Breathing Control: Cold water can shock your system, causing rapid, shallow breathing or even hyperventilation. It’s crucial to maintain controlled, deep breathing during the plunge. Breathwork practices, such as Wim Hof’s method, can be beneficial for controlling your breath in cold environments.
  6. Warm-Up Before and After: To minimize the risk of hypothermia, warm up your body with some light exercise before you plunge. After the plunge, dry off immediately and change into warm clothes. Hot beverages can also help to speed up the warming process.
  7. Don’t Dive: It’s safer to enter the water gradually, allowing your body time to adapt to the cold. Diving or jumping in can lead to a sudden shock response, which can be dangerous. Diving can also be dangerous in general, even in warm water.
  8. Listen to Your Body: Lastly, the most important precaution is to listen to your body. If you’re feeling unwell, getting dizzy, or experiencing numbness and tingling, get out of the water immediately.


titanic cold plunge meme

Cold plunging can be a fantastic wellness tool when done correctly. It is, however, crucial to remember that safety is paramount. Be mindful of these precautions, and you can make the most of your cold plunge experience.

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