We believe that winter is meant to be embraced, not endured. The best and most authentic sauna experiences always include a seasonal element of cold. Whether it be a cold shower in between cycles, rolling in a snow bank, or immersion in cold water — hot and cold need one another. Scandinavians and athletes alike have been using the cold plunge practice for centuries, often searching for relief from pain, inflammation, stress, and sleep issues. The benefits are numerous, but that’s a story for another blog.
Today, we’re here to chat through all things winter cold plunge, ensuring your experience as safe as it is beneficial. After guiding thousands of people through the thermal cycle of hot, cold, rest, rehydrate, repeat, we’ve compiled a few tips on how you can seize the season with this practice safely and effectively.
1. Find Cold Water (or Weather) – Anything sub-60 degrees Fahrenheit is therapeutically sound when it comes to cold plunging. From a brisk alpine lake in the mountains to a frozen hole in the ice that you’ve cut by hand or even your backyard cold plunge tub, there are plenty of spaces whether naturally cool or fabricated with ice that will allow you to experience the benefits of cold water. If the outdoor temps are cool – this counts too!
2. Use the Buddy System – It’s good practice to cold plunge with a friend to ensure safety. Grab a friend (and a little bravery) then hit the cold plunge.
3. Focus on your breath – Try to breathe calmly while you’re in the water. Cold water can give you temporary shortness of breath — practice breathing slowly, deeply, and calmly.
4. Take Your Time – Enter the water slowly, steadily, and gradually. Accept the fact that it is cold! You will learn to accept and appreciate this over time and with practice. If you’re a beginner, consider cold plunging later in the day as our bodies are more sensitive to the cold in the morning.
5. Gear Up – You may want to wear neoprene gloves and booties during winter plunging. It will minimize heat loss and make it a bit easier for plungers. Some may choose to keep their hands completely out of the water for this same reason.
Ever wonder what the heck is happening to your body during a cold plunge? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when you practice cold water immersion from head to toe.
If you have untreated coronary artery disease, untreated high blood pressure, severe heart rhythm disturbances, or if you think you may be pregnant, it is best to avoid cold immersion therapy. (Recommendations by the Danish Heart Association)
Our mission is to guide others so they can find rest, rejuvenation, and mind/body care through the cultural gift of sauna. Safety is always top of mind whether we’re guiding sessions at our experiences, sharing information on our platform, or participating in the thermic cycle ourselves. With these recommendations, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of the winter temperatures for years to come!
Want to plunge with the experts? Join us for our Community Cold Plunge right here in Duluth, MN the second Sunday of every month.
For more winter swimming tips, check out one of our favorite resources from Dr. Susanna Søberg. “There is nothing – no medication, no other form of exercise – that can shock you out of your head and back into your body like cold.”