How To Use Cold Water Therapy for Health Benefits


What is Cold Water Therapy you ask?

Well, let me tell you! Cold Water Therapy is the practice of using water at about a temperature of 59°F (15°C) or below to stimulate your body into healing and recovering itself faster. Just like you would ice your ankle if you tweaked it, Cold Water Therapy, also known as Cold Hydrotherapy, uses the same benefits for the whole body and not just a localized area. This helps to reduce inflammation and the amount of time for healing.


There have been quite a few recent studies on Cold Water Therapy all stemming from the Wim Hof Method. Visit this site for information on breathing techniques that I personally have used before and during Cold Water Therapy, detailed scientific studies on the benefits of Cold Hydrotherapy, and how to stay committed to a task that isn’t always the most comfortable.

ice bath in an alpine lake

Ways to Implement Cold Water Therapy

Take a Cold Shower

There are two methods that I have tried.

The first method is to only use cold water for your entire shower (5-8 minutes) and gradually turn the water colder once you start to acclimate. 

The second method is to start with warm water and shock your system with cold water and fluctuate between both for your entire shower.

Take an Ice Bath

Fill your bathtub with cold water. Put some ice in to cool the water further. Dip into the water slowly and keep adding more ice over time. Stay in as long as you can but it is recommended that you do not go over 15 minutes, if you can make it that long!

Jump into a Cold Lake or River

Here in Truckee and Tahoe we have plenty of natural, and not to mention beautiful, cold water surrounding us. There is Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, Truckee River, as well as Prosser, Stampede, and Boca Reservoir. There are also tons of alpine lakes in the summer (although if you can get to an alpine lake in the winter, that is truly ice water!). Not only do you get a stunning surrounding and an adventure, but you also gain from tons of health benefits as well! Always go with a friend and choose a safe location to be able to hang out for 10 minutes.

If you are committed to Cold Water Therapy, you will be able to increase the amount of time you stay in the cold water over time. Whether it is 30 seconds or 60 minutes, it will be beneficial to your health.

Looking for more than just a polar plunge? Check out these posts for tips on How to Swim in Lake Tahoe in the Winter or Our Ultimate Guide to Swimming in Donner Lake.

Cold water plunging in Donner Lake

The Health Benefits

The following have been scientifically proven to be a result of regular Cold Water Therapy:  

  • Decreased Pain/Soreness
  • Decrease Anxiety, Depression, Stress
  • Increase Alertness, Focus
  • Increase Metabolism
  • Increase Immune System
  • Better Sleep
  • Increase Energy
  • Improves Circulation
  • MS, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Autoimmune Disease Relief
  • Migraine Relief
  • Decrease Blood Pressure
  • Increase Creativity

For more detailed information on how each of these benefits anatomically work in your body, visit https://www.wimhofmethod.com/benefits

Learn more about cold water therapy

Pro Tips for the Lake Dips

  • Bring a Tek towel, bathrobe, your warm Down Socks, and beanie.
  • Practice your breathing techniques before jumping in.
  • Always go with a friend. 
  • Sunny days are better, but not necessary.
  • Jumping in is more of a shock to the system, but is easier to get done than wading in. My favorite spot is from the boat launch at Donner Lake.
  • Have hot coffee or tea in a Hydroflask waiting for you in the car.
  • Don’t forget to have fun!
Check out our Donner Dip Challenge to reap the health benefits as well as the saving benefits!

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