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Cold Shower vs. Cold Plunge

Cold Shower vs. Cold Plunge

One of the main questions people ask themselves when looking to buy a cold plunge / ice bath is how it differs from just taking a cold shower. To state the obvious, Cold plunges and cold showers both involve exposing your body to cold water, but there are some key differences between the two. As you learn the differences you will start to realize that these options are quite different and is why cold plunging has gained so much popularity.



Price difference: Should I spend a lot of money on an ice bath when I can just take a cold shower?

When looking at the two options it is hard not to put the price in as a factor. As someone that is price conscious this was my challenge in deciding if I wanted to get into cold plunges / ice baths. For most, taking a shower is something that is done daily and taking a cold shower adds no cost to your lifestyle. In comparison cold plunge / ice baths do cost money and can be expensive. It is important to keep in mind when making your decision that you are investing in the most important thing and that is you and your health. For me I compared it to having a gym membership versus running outside. Running outside is free but having a gym membership provides more benefits such as weight training, cardio machines and amenities.  



Temperatures: Can Cold showers reach the same temperature of ice baths?

A huge difference between these two is the temperature of the water. Ice baths and cold plunges not only allow you to get to lower temperatures but also can keep those temperatures consistent. It is typical for a shower to provide temperatures ranging from 55-60 degrees in the summer and have the potential of getting down to 46 degrees in the winter. Due to the fact that water is constantly flowing out of the shower head you're not able to get consistent temperatures. As for cold plunges and ice baths they can range from 60 degrees all the way down to 37 degrees. Cold showers aren’t able to accomplish as many benefits due to the fact that you can’t get the water as cold and consistent.



Full immersion: Is it important to be fully submerged in water?

Being fully submerged in the water is an important difference when it relates to getting all the benefits to cold water immersion therapy. When getting into an ice bath / cold plunge your body will be completely in the water besides your neck and head. Also being submerged in water exerts a compression effect from the pressure of the water. As for a cold shower, you usually can only get half of your body exposed to the water. That means you have to constantly switch off between which side of your body is getting hit by water.  By being completely submerged you are allowing your entire body to recover and benefit from cold water therapy.



Benefits: Can I get the same benefits from a cold shower as I can from a Cold plunge?

A lot of benefits that you get from this therapy are due to how cold the water is. For example your Vagus nerve activates in these colder temperatures which helps relieve stress. Freezing water triggers white blood cells to get released which fight infections and build up your immune systems. If you are trying to recover from an intense workout these cold temperatures will decrease the soreness in your muscles and provide a faster recovery. Finally it can lead to improved metabolism and lead to a better night of sleep. Yes, cold showers can offer some of these benefits but ice baths accelerate the process and take it to the next level.



Which option is better?

In the end the choice is yours and depends on what your goals are. We recommend taking a cold shower first to see how you like cold water therapy and to understand how it makes you feel. If you end up enjoying it and can see it being part of your lifestyle then start getting serious about purchasing a cold plunge / ice bath. After understanding the differences, cold plunge is the best option if you are looking for life changing benefits that come from cold water therapy.

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