On the first hot summer day here in Boston, Cryomed on Boylston Street offered a cold plunge tub on the sidewalk in front of their store and after I saw the e-mail decided to go for it.
I’d never done a cold plunge or ice bath before but I’d heard and read about many health benefits of this trend.
My main motivation was muscle and joint recovery, as well as the rejuvenating effects. After an intense and successful Olympic weightlifting competition training block, I felt particularly keen on giving cold therapy a try.
To my surprise I managed to see in there for 9 minutes and I even enjoyed it! Here’s why: I felt the immediate and obvious benefit on the muscles and joints, as well as the mind. Being immersed felt like a nervous system cleanse. I read afterwards cold plunge can be especially good for the vagus nerve, training intentional relaxation and regulation.
When I climbed into the tub of icy water I was ready – I wanted to do it after reading so many positive effects. It should be noted that I read in a few articles that it’s not for everyone because it is physical stress. I found it sort of soothing though because of my very active and at times physically rigorous lifting lifestyle.
To be clear, it wasn’t easy getting in, but not as difficult as I anticipated. It Helps that I’d seen video footage of people, including the notorious Hof doing it, and I just kept breathing deeply. That produced a lot of internal heat right away in response to the extreme. And after a few minutes of acclimating, I went for a full dunk.
Even better, for a full day afterwards I was feeling invigorated and refreshed. My skin also felt amazing. Since then I’ve even tried a couple of cold showers at home. Being fully immersed out there at Cryomed made those seem doable and cold water not so daunting. After training the other day the cold water felt good on my back especially.
So what happens on the physiological level when you immerse yourself in glacier water like that? Reported benefits range from reduced anxiety, a meditative state to inflammation and pain relief.
While icy baths may not be something I’ll partake of frequently, the experience has definitely changed me for the better with cold tolerance, and now the Atlantic seems quite approachable. More than anything else for me, it’s awesome to have that therapeutic recovery tool in the bag.