The Benefits of a Cold Plunge to Hot Tub Combo
You might have seen hot tub-to-cold plunges trending on TikTok, but did you know civilizations across the world have used hot and cold therapies for centuries? Because of their popularity throughout the ages, scientists are starting to explore how cold plunges, hot tubs, and a combination of the two can improve health. Cold and hot water therapy are often used to improve overall health, support athletic recovery, and enhance mood.
Here’s what science says about taking a cold-then-hot plunge:
First, let’s look at some of the benefits of cold plunges
***Make sure to approach any hot or cold therapy with caution and check with your doctor before starting, especially if you have a cardiovascular condition***
Cold Plunge Benefits: Mood Booster
If you felt suddenly refreshed and a little more lively following your cold plunge, you might be onto something. Researchers have found that just one 20-minute cold plunge can help improve your mood. If you’re feeling down, it might be worth giving an ice cold bath a try.
Cold Plunge Benefits: Improved Recovery
Cold plunges, a.k.a. cold water therapy or ice baths are also a popular tool to boost athletic recovery. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation, which can ease muscle soreness and help prevent injury. The jury is still out on whether cold or hot therapy is better for recovery, but many athletes enjoy both, often as part of a hot-to-cold contrast therapy.
Cold Plunge Benefits: Improve Overall Health
One systematic review that looked at many studies on cold water therapy found promising evidence that cold water therapy could support protection against cardiovascular risk factors, insulin resistance, mental health, and fat loss. That means that no matter how you are looking to improve your health, a cold plunge could help you reach those goals.
Cold Plunge Risks: Check with a Doctor Before Starting Cold Therapy
There are some risks to submerging your body suddenly in cold water. It is a good idea to check with a doctor before starting hot-to-cold therapy and to try these therapies with a professional or friend by your side. People with cardiovascular conditions may be particularly sensitive to cold therapy and should work with their healthcare provider to develop a plan. Hypothermia is another risk associated with cold water therapy.
Hot water therapy, another term for using hot tubs or saunas as a health resource, is known to have a range of benefits on its own. Click here to learn more about the health benefits of hot tubs.
What about the Hot Tub / Cold Plunge Combo?
Switching between heat and cold therapy within one session is an intervention that probably dates back to thousands of years ago in Finland. Today, it is a common therapy used by physical therapists, trainers, and athletes to reduce inflammation and pain and enhance recovery. Researchers believe that the contrast between hot and cold helps increase blood flow to the muscles, which supports the body’s natural ability to heal and recover.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your physical and mental health, the hot tub-to-cold plunge combo might be the activity you’re looking for.