The Benefits of Cold-Water Dipping
Posted on 27th May 2021
It’s fair to say that cold water dipping is not something that sounds fun at all. However once you get used to it, it’s said to be one of the most liberating and joyous activities you can do!
Cold water dipping is an excellent way to wake your body up and make yourself feel better, both physically and mentally.
There are various reasons it makes you feel so good. The main reasons are that it boosts your immune system and releases endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals that help to relieve pain or stress. But it doesn’t stop there. Cold water dipping can help significantly with muscle recovery post workout and decreases inflammation within the body, which is why we’re big champions of it! If done regularly it will have a long-lasting positive effect on how you feel on a day-to-day basis.
Cold water dipping doesn’t necessarily mean going for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean off Cornwall, although that is a fun version of it! Cold water dipping can consist of ice baths, brisk daily showers, and outdoor swims/dips.
Just so you are aware: If the water temperature is below and maintained between 7°C and 12°C, then you should only immerse yourself for 10 to 20 seconds and no longer. This is a dip and not a long swim!
How to start
Get into the water gently so to avoid cold water shock and so that your body can climatise to the temperature.
Try short times to start with.
Keep your fingertips out of the water to generate more heat.
Wear a pair of warm socks (preferably waterproof swim shoes or socks).
Wear a pair of warm gloves and a hat.
Ensure your breathing is relaxed before submerging.
Start by standing in the water covered up to your neck with your hands out. Eventually you may be able to start doing some light breaststroke with the head out to get the body pumping blood round the body (wear a tow float).
Keep your head out of the water. If you want to dip the head for refreshment, only do it just before you’re about to get out of the water.
How long should you cold water dip for
As the temperatures drop you should decrease the amount of time in which you spend in the water, but as time goes you will be able to stay in longer than 5 minutes. Safely maybe up to 20 minutes maximum, 10 mins minimum (easily between 0-7 degree). But this takes at least a year of training. To start with if the water is that cold you would be smart to just limit it to 3 minutes max and 1 minute minimum. With a few months of practice, you can start to increase the time. Do not force yourself to stay in longer than you should.
What is a must?
Take all your wet clothes off as soon as you are out of the water. Do not leave them on.
Have a hot drink!
Control your breathing.
Dry yourself off and get into a warm car if you can, especially if its wintertime.
How do I build up tolerance to cold water?
Simply do it more often. I recommend you do it least two or three times a week whilst gradually extending the time that you stay in the water.
Get out if you are not comfortable.
Do not set time goals for staying in the water because then you could end up forcing yourself to stay in longer and end up getting a cold injury.
How can I tell how cold the water is?
Hold the thermometer in the cold water for two minutes.
Record the temperature after two minutes.
It should be a maximum of 20 degrees or below.
Cold water is generally between 15°C to 26°C.
Extended benefits from doing this on a regular weekly basis
Improved blood circulation.
Increases sleep quality.
Spikes your energy levels.
Reduces inflammation in the body. Reduces blood flow to the area which helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
It will help treat health conditions and help stimulate health benefits.
Less muscle soreness.
A tip: If you’re using cold water to help with muscle recovery, you may want to combine it with stretching or active recovery.
This helps with pain as it causes your blood vessels to constrict. Although not much research has been done to support these claims, I, alongside many other people, have achieved these benefits through cold water dips.
You may be familiar with the concept of professional rugby players having ice baths to flush out lactic acid. This is also known as cold water immersion or cryotherapy.
In my experience cold dipping got me over ITB Referral syndrome which I had been suffering from for 9 months from running. I was able to start up again with trail running and then after 2 to 3 months I was achieving 6 miles on trail and track with no pain at all. I put this all down to the decrease of inflammation and increase in energy levels. I also felt a lot more positive and energised on a day-to-day basis.
Please remember as always that safety comes first. If in doubt, do this with someone with experience first, and check with your doctor if you have any health concerns.
Share this post: