Cold Plunges vs Ice Bath Therapy

Adam Fischer Adam Fischer
Cold Plunges vs Ice Bath Therapy

Are you someone like me who loves cold showers? They are a relaxing activity that refreshes the body and makes a person more active. With time the physical wellness practices  like cold plunges and ice baths continue to gain popularity. 

There has been an increased interest in cold water therapy. The two popular cold water therapy techniques are ice baths and cold plunges. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are actually some key differences between the two. In this article we will go into the depth of Cold plunges vs Ice baths. 

What is an Ice Bath?

People take an ice bath by putting their bodies in a container with ice and cold water. By adding or taking away ice from an ice bath, you can change the temperature of the water. There is no need to plug in an ice bath because it does not have a fridge or other built-in cooling system.

What is a Cold Plunge?

Taking a cold plunge is like taking an ice bath in that you put your whole body in cold water. In a cold plunge, on the other hand, the water is not filled with ice. Instead, a chiller or refrigerator unit cools the water. 

This feature lets the person using it choose the exact temperature they want for the water. A cold plunge also keeps the water moving all the time and cleans it with a filter system. One of the best cold plunges is Sun Home Cold Plunge™ - Portable Ice Bath With Chiller.

Similarities between Ice Baths and Cold Plunges


Ice Baths

Cold Plunges


It involves being submerged in water that is well below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

Comparable in terms of immersion in cold water, which typically takes place at temperatures lower than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).


It has a lot of health and recovery benefits. Some of the benefits are reduced muscle soreness, improved circulation, and enhanced immune function.

It has similar physiological advantages. Benefits include muscle recovery, decreased inflammation, stress relief, and mental well-being.

Muscle Recovery

It helps in reducing muscle soreness and pain. It also promotes faster recovery after intense physical activity.

Cold plunges help with muscle recovery and rejuvenation by reducing lactic acid buildup and inflammation.

Inflammation Reduction

It can help reduce inflammation in muscles and joints. Also helps in injury recovery and preventing muscle damage.

Helps in decreasing inflammation levels throughout the body. It potentially reduces the risk of chronic diseases.

Stress Relief

Promote relaxation and stress reduction. The cold exposure triggers the release of endorphins and reduces cortisol levels.

It induces relaxation and mental well-being. It also plays a role in stress management and improved mood.

Circulation Improvement

Enhance blood circulation in the body, as the cold causes blood vessels to constrict and then expand, improving overall blood flow.

It improves circulation due to cold exposure. As a result there is better oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues.

Immune System Support

Ice baths boost the immune system over time through regular exposure, as the body adapts to the stressor.

Support immune function through cold stress. It potentially increases the ability of the body to fight off infections.


cold plunges vs ice baths

Differences between Ice Baths and Cold Plunges


Ice Baths

Cold Plunges


It normally uses a bathtub or ice-filled container, which can be set up at home with minimal equipment.

Often uses specialized cold plunge pools. They need access to specific facilities or spa centers.


Ice baths are often taken for 10-15 minutes, but the duration can vary depending on individual tolerance.

Cold plunges may be shorter, around 3-5 minutes, as the focus is on quick immersion and shock.

Temperature Control

Ice baths have a fixed, controllable temperature. They allow users to adjust the  cold temperature as needed.

Cold plunge pools may have adjustable temperatures. This makes them more suitable for various preferences.


They are easier to set up at home with a simple tub and ice. This makes them accessible to a broader audience.

Cold plunges need access to specific facilities that offer cold plunge pools. They limit the accessibility.


They are used in sports and athletic recovery, especially in professional settings and training facilities.

They are commonly used in spa and wellness treatments centers with a focus on relaxation and rejuvenation.

Cultural Practices

Ice baths have cultural significance in some regions, where cold baths are traditional practices for health and vitality.

Less associated with specific cultural traditions. Their use is primarily driven by modern wellness trends.

Cold Tolerance

People need to build gradual adaptation to cold exposure, as sudden immersion can be extremely uncomfortable and even harmful.

They usually don't ask for  as much cold tolerance training, as the shorter duration allows for quicker adaptation.


Cold Plunges vs Ice Baths- What’s Better?

Finally, what you decide to do—an ice bath or a cold plunge—will depend on your own tastes and wants. You are lucky that both of these choices can change your health for the better and let you do cold water therapy. In the end, an ice bath is less expensive, but it's harder to keep the temperature stable, and you have to get more ice and clean it more often.


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