Social media is abuzz with a new sauna phenomenon. And this time it's all about a sauna ice bath combo.
Interestingly, it has all the takes with people giving their metabolism a solid kick with this hot and cold duo.
However, new as it might sound, the sauna and ice bath routine has been around for thousands of years. Dating back to the ancient Finnish sauna tradition, the Finns still go for an ice plunge after sauna.
Now, the latest sauna and cold plunge vogue in the country is here to stay. In fact, some sauna places have even started to build icy cold pools, apt for a strong jolt after a comfy sauna session.
Wondering what this cold plunge sauna routine has in store for you and how you can make the most out of it?
Well, we've compiled a detailed sauna cold plunge guide covering everything from its science to benefits to application and more. Also, we've included inputs from health and wellness professionals to acquaint you with a clear picture.
So, let's dive right in and have a close look.
Sauna and cold plunge: What is it all about?
As the name suggests, a sauna and cold dip involves a dual shock of hot and cold temperature exposure. Herein, you'll combine your regular sauna bath with a plunge in icy cold water, replicating the good old Nordic sauna practice.
Now, although the traditional sauna ice bath combo has to do with a cold dip in icy lakes, you don't need one anymore. That's because you can use a cold pool, a shower, or an ice bath, to name a few.
You see, the sauna and ice bath duo is associated with a range of health benefits, including physical and mental well-being. And unlike the benefits of standalone sauna bathing that require frequent sessions to be noticed, the advantages of a sauna and ice bath routine are quick.
Not to mention that you're in for some really unique gains thanks to a cold jolt to your body.
An ice plunge after a 20-30 minute sauna bath can do wonders.
Also called the 'Nordic Cycle' by experts, this includes releasing endorphins (the feel-good hormones), increasing your blood flow, soothing your nervous system, and more.
Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
There's more to the benefits of 'Nordic Cycle.' But before we get there, let's have a look at the right way to follow a sauna and ice bath routine.
Cold plunge before or after sauna: What's the right method?
Fascinating as the concept of sauna and ice plunge is, it is equally confusing for sauna bathers.
At the heart of it lies the question: which should you choose first, the sauna or the cold dip?
According to an overwhelming majority of health and fitness experts, you should first go for a sauna then cold plunge.
These experts cite the example of contrast therapy, where your body (or part of it) is first immersed in hot water followed by icy cold water. And they suggest that sauna to cold plunge works similarly to contrast therapy, where your body kick-starts a fight-or-flight response, enabling thermoregulation and naturally releasing norepinephrine.
In short, a cold plunge after sauna can help you reap maximum health and wellness benefits.
Bonus: A cold plunge after sauna can help you feel pumped up!
You'll agree when we say that there's nothing like the feeling of adrenaline rushing down your veins. And that's exactly what a cold dip after a sauna session does with you.
As per studies from the North American Sauna Society, transitioning from the hot temperature of a sauna to a freezing water temperature increases heart rate and narrows blood vessels.
The result: A rush of adrenaline and endorphin that's sure to make you feel simply amazing.
What is the best time for a sauna and cold plunge?
A million-dollar question for those following the cold plunge sauna routine is the perfect time of the day to follow this regimen.
You see, saunas are associated with deep relaxation, where you let your body and mind loosen up and decompress.
And as per wellness experts, evening hours, most preferably before bed, are the best time to have a sauna bath. In fact, they even suggest that a sauna before bed can make you sleep like a baby.
Nevertheless, be it morning or evening, you can avail the health benefits of a sauna at just about any time.
Now, coming to the cold plunge after sauna bathing, we suggest you do it in the morning hours rather than in the evening.
Why, you might wonder?
Well, while saunas are all about unwinding, a cold plunge is linked to wakefulness. Meaning switching from sauna to cold plunge can wake you up, making you feel energized and alert.
So, a cold plunge after sauna is best suited for morning hours as it can make you feel invigorated and help you have a productive day.
How long should you cold plunge after sauna?
When it comes to the benefits of sauna and ice bathing, they're not linked to the maximum time you spend in hot and cold temperatures. In other words, your regular sauna session followed by a short plunge in cold water should be enough to reap the health benefits.
As such, we suggest you go for a 20-30 minute sauna session followed by a 2-5 minute cold plunge or ice bath.
For instance, if you're just starting out with a cold plunge sauna routine, 20 minutes in the sauna and a 2-minute cold plunge should be apt.
Also, you can gradually increase the time in the sauna and cold water as your endurance capability improves over time. For instance, going forward, you can spend 30 minutes in the sauna and 5-6 in the cold water.
Note: Even though spending more time in the sauna and cold shower doesn't hurt, we suggest you don't overdo it. That's because while exceeding a sauna session can dehydrate you, overdoing a cold plunge can cause hypothermia.
Curious about the sauna best practices for safety and well-being?
You can go through our blog - Sauna Etiquette: Everything You Need To Know About.
Is it a bad idea to have a cold plunge before sauna?
A sauna session after a cold plunge or ice bath has no harm at all. In fact, you might still be able to avail some of the benefits of sauna and ice bath duo.
But it goes without saying that the benefits of a cold plunge after sauna are unmatched by sauna bathing after a plunge.
What are the benefits of a sauna cold plunge regimen?
The one question that almost every wellness enthusiast has on their mind is the benefits of an ice bath and sauna combo. And although the benefits of sauna bathing are common knowledge, the additional or unique advantages of cold plunges aren't very well known.
But not anymore, as we've compiled all the benefits that you can expect from regular saunas and cold plunges. So let's look into it:
1. Enhances your body's natural healing process
One of the noted benefits of Nordic Cycle or sauna and ice bath is the boost to your body's natural ability to heal itself.
You see, a sauna ice bath combo helps red blood cells travel to those parts of the body that are healing from an injury more efficiently. Also, it increases the flow of oxygen and aids the development of antibodies.
Not to mention, a regular sauna cold plunge therapy even helps the efficient transportation of essential nutrients to the injured areas.
This together speeds up healing and ensures that the damaged cells recover at the earliest.
Bonus: Sauna and ice bath routine can also help reduce swelling
Apart from injuries, swelling can also result from poor blood flow in your body. And this is especially true for elderly and middle-aged people.
An ice bath and sauna combo comes in really handy to get rid of such swellings, thanks to the improved circulation it helps achieve.
For instance, along with imported cardiovascular circulation, you can also expect better circulation through lymphatic systems. This, in turn, helps get rid of lymphedema and the swelling resulting from it.
2. Relieves pain and makes you feel better
The fact that the Nordic Cycle helps instant release of adrenaline and endorphins also works for natural pain suppression.
Well, adrenaline and endorphins are associated with our body's emergency response system, which, when triggered, leads to an enhanced state of alertness. Also, it shifts our brain's focus away from the pain, thus making us feel relieved.
And this proves helpful for natural pain alleviation after an injury or surgery, thus reducing the need for medications. Furthermore, it also makes you feel better overall.
3. Improves blood flow in one go
You might have heard about the benefits of a sauna for improving blood flow. But what if we told you that adding a cold plunge to your sauna bath can help do this better?
By switching between hot and cold, you can help trigger a quick dilation of your blood vessels, which instantly increases the blood flow.
Also, this improves your cardiovascular response and, in turn, promotes a healthy heart.
Now that's interesting, isn't it?
4. Converts white fat into brown fat
Pairing a sauna with a cold plunge helps convert white fat in your body to brown fat.
But what is brown fat in the first place?
For starters, brown fat is found near the spine and is considered a healthy fat. In fact, from boosting metabolism to helping our body regulate its temperature to responding to obesity and increased blood sugar, a range of benefits are linked to brown fat.
Now, the more you expose yourself to the cold, the more brown cells your body is going to build. And that makes for a solid reason for cold plunges after sauna sessions.
5. Boosts immunity
While saunas and steam baths are known for their immunity-boosting potential, adding a cold plunge into the equation can help you boost immunity even more.
As we discussed earlier, a cold plunge right after sauna bathing triggers the fight-or-flight response. This also facilitates thermoregulation, where your body adjusts its internal temperature, keeping it steady despite the external temperature fluctuations.
And the result is a better immune response and enhanced overall immunity.
Are there any dangers linked to the sauna cold plunge combo?
There are no health risks associated with a sauna and cold plunge routine. However, beginners, elderly people, pregnant women, children, and people with underlying health conditions should always be cautious.
You see, a cold plunge can bring a lot of shock to the body, especially after sitting in high-temperature conditions. And depending on factors such as age and health, among others, there can be severe and immediate effects too.
So, if you fall in the above category, we suggest you consult with a healthcare professional before going for a cold plunge after sauna.
You might also want to read - How Many Calories Does A Sauna Burn?
Sauna and cold plunge: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is it good to cold plunge after sauna?
Yes, a cold plunge after sauna bathing can be highly beneficial to both your physical and mental health. So, it's a good idea to add a cold plunge to your regular sauna routine.
But it goes without saying that a cold shock might not be good for some age and health groups. And that's exactly why we suggest consulting with your physician beforehand.
2. Can you go for a sauna and cold plunge after workout?
Sauna bathing and a cold plunge after an intense workout can go a long way, relieving your muscles and re-energizing you for the day.
However, we suggest you take at least a 30-minute break between your workout and sauna session to let your body cool down.
3. Is there any substitute for a cold plunge?
Yes, a cold plunge can be replaced with a range of cold therapies.
For instance, you can go for a cold shower, an ice bath, or cryotherapy. That's because all of these alternatives have a similar effect on your body, if not the same.
You might also want to read - How To Install A Sauna In Your Home.
As you can see, there's no better way to boost your health and well-being than a sauna cold plunge therapy.
Nordic Cycle, as it is otherwise called, can add a range of unique advantages to the list of benefits that sauna bathing offers.
Wondering how you can have a cold plunge after sauna right at your home?
Well, you can get in touch with us!
At Steam & Sauna Experts, our home sauna and cold plunge packages are designed for efficiency and affordability.
Our inventory is made up of industry-leading products from Delta Faucet (formerly Steamist), Amerec, and Mr. Steam. Also, our team boasts a decade of hands-on installation and maintenance experience.
In short, we've got all your sauna cold shower routine covered.