Residential cold plunge pools and spas (also known as cryotherapy baths or ice baths) have been gaining in popularity over the years by health conscious individuals wanting their therapeutic benefits within the confines of their own home or backyard. The concept of cold plunge pools, generally kept at around 50-60 degrees, has been widely used in eastern medicine, ancient civilizations, and more commonly among professional athletes in locker rooms and training facilities throughout history.
Intense training and workouts can cause muscle soreness and joint inflammation in athletes which can be reduced by both hot and cold water immersion. When you immerse yourself in cold water following an intense workout it has a shocking effect (constricting blood flow) and then numbing of the nerves stimulating the release of hormones. The release of hormones such as norepinephrine can help with inflammation and reduce muscle and joint strain. It can also help with fatigue.
Here is a list of health benefits of cold plunge pools;
- Faster Recovery From Exercise, Sports, and Training – immersing yourself in cold water following these activities will release hormones and endorphins that reduce inflammation and therefore speeds up recovery
- Improved Performance – using a plunge pool within 24 hour post-workout is said to improve performance 10-20%
- Burn Calories – cold water immersion causes the body to bump its metabolic rate in an effort to keep itself warm
- Reduces Joint Stress – cold water immersion reduces joint pain, inflammation, and collagen breakdown especially in individuals with arthritis
- Boosts Immune System – brief but regular exposure to cold water therapy can boost white blood cells and cytokine production which helps the body fight off germs, bacteria, and viruses
- Can Lessen Depression – some research from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine shows that short exposure to cold temperatures has the ability to stimulate production of noradrenaline which can reduce the effects of depression.
Cold water therapy can also stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and improve blood flow throughout the body ultimately reducing inflammation which has been linked to symptoms of depression.
- Blood Pressure – Immersion in cold water causes the body to restrict blood vessels which is believed to stabilize or lower blood pressure
- Improve Overall Health and Mood – although this particular benefit is more subjective it is believed that regular cold water immersion for brief periods (10 min) can improve emotional and mental wellbeing. It is also said to drop uric acids level and increase glutathione (natural antioxidant) which can reduce stress.
We’ve also compiled a list of brands that offer chilling and cooling systems in their hot tubs. Please note that some of these brands offer the feature as an integrated option while others offer it as an external component (heat pump). These brands offer both portable, above ground models as well as in-ground, built-in models.
- Atera Spas “AnyTemp”
- Hotspring Spas “CoolZone”
- Caldera Spas “CoolZone”
- Northern Lights Hot Tubs “Arctic Heat Pump”
- Diamond Spas
Of much greater benefit, the aforementioned list of spas can be considered contrast pools which combine hot and cold water therapy benefits (also referred to as contrast therapy). These units provide the option for both hot water immersion and cold water immersion with a temperature range of 50 degrees to 104 degrees. The reasoning behind alternating hot and cold is that muscles constrict in cold water and blood vessels expand in a hot water promoting circulation. The ability to alternate between hot and cold temperatures is ideal for athletes looking for faster recovery and peak performance. It is recommended that you seek the advice of your doctor or health care professional to make sure that hot or cold water therapy is right for you.