Combining sauna and cold water therapy for ultimate health benefits

Feeling the warm condensation on your body as you look across to the door of the steam-filled sanctuary where you spent the last 25 minutes experiencing deep peace, to plunge your cocooned body into a vat of iced water — so breathtakingly cold it will feel as though your mind and soul is being removed from your physical form — must clearly be a masochistic act of self-punishment. Surely? 

Or is it one of the most powerful therapies we can easily access to heal both body and mind? 

Hot and cold therapies have been used for centuries to treat all forms of physical and mental illnesses. It is only now scientists are studying them that we are beginning to understand why combining these therapies is so beneficial to our systems.

We’ve all seen the images of crazy people running out of a hot sauna and then leaping into a freezing lake – but why? 

First, what is cold water therapy?

Cold water therapy (CWT) is the art of learning to immerse your body in water temperatures below 14 Celsius / 58 degrees Fahrenheit and accessing the many mental and physical benefits found from gently shocking the body in cold water. Depending on the water source, (for example ice bath, river or sea) it varies on how long it is ideal to plunge yourself in the cold water.

Wim Hof; aka “The Iceman” has helped push cold water therapy into mainstream consciousness through gaining fame for enduring freezing temperatures by controlling his breathing to calm his mind and system.

Benefits of cold water therapy after a sauna

Extreme temperatures shock the system into working more effectively, and cold water therapy starts to activate the body’s ability to heal and relieve many forms of chronic illnesses and overall health and mental wellbeing. Immune systems are improved, and muscle inflammation is reduced. CWT is also claimed to help increase:

  • Metabolic function
  • Sleep
  • Energy levels
  • Positive moods
  • Circulation
  • Life expectancy
  • Skin conditions such as acne and eczema

The science behind the benefits

  • Exposure to low temperatures activates genes affecting our survival response, these repair DNA before new cells develop and therefore helps longevity within our genes and cells
  • Soreness in muscles after exercise can be reduced as the cold water restricts blood vessels, which help numb pain and also reduce swelling
  • Cold exposure also increases our production of PGC1-alpha, a protein that helps in the production of brown fat. Brown fat breaks down our blood sugar and fat molecules to create heat and help maintain body temperature. White fat in our bodies stores extra energy and if this builds up, it leads to obesity; producing brown fat helps improve our metabolism and reduce weight
  • When cold, the body releases noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) which affects our metabolism, brain function and genetic expression which can help improve our glucose and lipid metabolism, decrease inflammation, improve cognitive performance and in theory, enhance immune function 

Breathing technique

CWT is improved from learning breathing techniques. If the body learns to control breathing, the heart rate will lower and the mind will remain calm. The body will then not react to the cold, automatically descending into fight or flight response. Instead, the body is fully oxygenated resulting in a natural ability to manage the cold. 

Breathing techniques help reduce carbon dioxide in our bodies and access our natural painkillers. When exposed to the cold our brains release opioids and cannabinoids into the body which stop the signals which inform your body that you are in pain, or feeling extreme temperatures. Dopamine and serotonin are then released, creating a phenomenal natural mental high.

How to begin practising cold water therapy

  1. Steady as you go! Don’t think for one moment you’ll be able to cope with sitting in an ice bath for ten minutes. CWT is a practice and the body learns how to cope with the cold by being introduced to the treatment in short but frequent bursts.
  2. Start by using a shower to build your resistance to the cold
  3. Shower normally in warm water and then turn the temperature of the water down
  4. Use steady breathing techniques to help reduce the uncomfortable cold sensation
  5. When your body has had enough, turn the temperature back up again 
  6. Repeat this a few times each time you shower
  7. Aim to build up to standing in the cold water for five minutes; do not expect to withstand this on day one!

So why combine sauna with CWT?

The health and mental benefits from sauna use are incredible. Increasingly, more and more people are looking to help their physical and psychological wellbeing from effective, natural sources – sauna practice being one of the most respected and understood of such remedies.

Whilst sauna or CWT are fantastic practices in their own rights, combining the two is the absolute clincher for those looking to drive the most value from their practice.

The benefits of using sauna and cold water therapy together

  • Hopping between cold and hot temperatures allows you to sit in both for longer to gain the most from your practice. The colder your core temperature, the longer it takes for your body to heat in a sauna and vice versa. You’ll soon find a plunge bath more bearable if your body has withstood high temperatures and looking to cool down
  • Sauna temperatures produce an increased heart rate similar to doing a hardcore cardiac work out
  • The body increases blood flow which then creates a rejuvenating effect both physically and mentally
  •  The heat-cold cycle releases endorphins helping to improve our mental wellbeing, often creating an incredible mental high, a greater sense of alertness and clarity of thought
  • The combination of temperatures forces our lymphatic system to be triggered which improves circulation and our ability to flush toxins from our system, therefore detoxifying our bodies
  • Increased blood circulation stimulates blood flow and helps improve skin health

Our recommendation for creating a hot sauna -cold water practice or Nordic Cycle 

  1. Sit in the hot sauna for as long as your body will let you – do not watch the clock because your tolerance is unique to you and has nothing to do with the measure of time. 
  2. On exiting the sauna immediately plunge yourself into an ice bath, plunge pool, river – whatever your preferred cold option!
  3. Try and complete this cycle for as many times as you can to achieve the maximum benefits for your body and mind. You should aim to spend as much time cooling down as you do heating up.
  4. Once you have practised this on a few occasions, you will be able to remain in the cold water for longer, up to ten minutes is the goal!

If you would like to learn more about how to create your own hot sauna-cold water plunge practice, please contact us. We are passionate about creating amazing sauna practices and will love to advise how you can begin your personal sauna journey.

Order a Catalogue

If you would like a physical catalogue delivered to your door, please fill in the form below and we’ll post one out to you free of charge!

Steel Cold Plunge Ice Baths

Manufactured in Nebraska USA. These steel ice baths are manufactured to the highest standards and provide the perfect ice bath or plunge pool and can be used inside our outdoors.

Made from made from 0.91mm (20GA) G90 steel.

These tanks feature 4 ply locked seams with contained sealant. The top contains a 22mm (0.875in) steel pipe rolled into the top edge to create a smooth crush-proof finish. The tanks also have a 19mm (0.75in) zinc coated, threaded plug assembly to enable the tank to be drained.

The steel round bath is available in 3 different sizes.

Stock tanks are primarily made for commercial livestock use, and due to their agricultural nature they may have imperfections such as small dents and scratches. Any such marks will in no way affect the durability of the tanks and should be viewed in the context of their agricultural origins. The size of the tanks may vary up to 10cm from the specified dimensions.

To request the perfect Steel Cold Plunge Ice Bath made to your specifications, please fill in the form below

Hot Tub with
Internal Heater

THE PERFECT HOT TUB TO COMFORTABLY SEAT 3-4 PEOPLE.

Set includes:

  • Polypropylene hot tub insert : inner size 160cm / inner depth 105cm;
  • Wooden parts:
    • – outside wall
    • nice round wooden edge on top
    • two-steps stairs
    • inner fence with shelf – mini bar (protection against the burns)
    • inside benches-sunny type
    • hot tub cover
  • 2pcs clamping bands made of stainless steel (adjustable)
  • Powerful Inside heater (stainless steel thickness 1,5mm, sort: 304) with chimney and cap
  • Bottom water outlet
  • Ash shovel
  • Wooden paddle

Please note that larger diameters and additional stair types are available on request. Please make a note of these on the “Additional Comments” section below if these are options you wish to explore.

To request the perfect Hot Tub with Internal Heater made to your specifications, please fill in the form below

Hot Tub with
External Heater

THE PERFECT HOT TUB TO COMFORTABLY SEAT 5-6 PEOPLE.

Set includes:

  • Poly-propelene hot tub insert (UV-resistant)
  • Diameter – 1.60 m
  • Height / depth – 1.05 m
  • Outside diameter – 1.76 m
  • Wooden outside decoration
  • Outside wall
  • Nice round wooden edge on top
  • Two steps stairs
  • Wooden benches
  • Clamping bands made of stainless steel
  • Outside heater set (heater, chimney with cap, connections)
  • Bottom water outlet
  • Wooden paddle
  • Ash shovel

Please note that larger diameters and additional stair types are available on request. Please make a note of these on the “Additional Comments” section below if these are options you wish to explore.

To request the perfect Hot Tub with External Heater made to your specifications, please fill in the form below

Mini Ice Bath

THIS MINI ICE BATH WITH COLD OR WARM WATER CAN BE A GREAT WAY TO REFRESH YOURSELF AFTER A HEATED SAUNA INDOORS OR OUTDOORS.

Set includes:

  • Polypropylene insert (UV-resistant)
  • Inside diameter – 100 cm
  • Height / depth – 100 cm
  • Outside diameter – 116 cm;
  • Standard bench height 30cm , width 35cm;
  • Plastic bench – open style;
  • Wooden decoration – spruce: outside wall, nice round wooden edge on top, two steps stairs;
  • 2 clamping bands made of stainless steel (adjustable);
  • Bottom water outlet

To request the perfect Mini Ice Bath made to your specifications, please fill in the form below