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Ice bathing with Kari Traa


Ice Bath: Benefits and tips

Have you ever admired hardy winter swimmers from a distance, and thought about trying it yourself? Read more about how taking an ice bath can improve health and wellbeing – and find out how to get started!

Why ice bath? And is it really good for you?

You’re probably asking: How can it be sensible to jump in icy water when you’re already freezing on dry land? Well, the truth is that if you stay on the shore – sluggish from the cold and dark of winter – you’re missing a fantastic chance to lift your spirits and enjoy a rush of warmth.

In contact with the cold water, the body generates endorphins, which are natural pain relievers and mood enhancers! A Finnish study published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health found that taking an ice bath can reduce stress and help relieve exhaustion and fatigue. After four months of regular winter swimming sessions, the study participants experienced higher energy levels in their daily lives. They also noted improvements in mood and memory skills. In addition, winter swimming offers a feeling of achievement and mental preparation to handle other challenges that life throws at us.

However, taking an ice bath isn’t recommended for everyone. People with serious brain disease, epilepsy, a history of heart problems, or hardening of coronary arteries should avoid this type of exercise.


Ice bath tips for beginners
  • It takes time to get accustomed to cold-water bathing. It’s a good idea to start by showering in cold water for a time. You can also practice in cold plunge baths offered by sauna and spa facilities.
  • The first time you go winter swimming, don’t focus on showing off your diving skills or other water tricks. Enter the water calmly, and gradually increase the depth once you know how your body will react.
  • For an extra-special experience, combine winter swimming with a sauna session. Nothing compares to hopping into a toasty sauna after a dip in winter waters!
  • Remember – don’t hold your breath! By breathing normally during your winter swimming session, you’ll improve your blood circulation. This is turn will keep you warm and relaxed. In fact, winter swimming is excellent training for boosting your ability to handle intimidating and stressful situations – even those that can arise in daily life.
  • Avoid taking an ice bath alone. First of all, it’s a great shared experience and the perfect occasion for social interaction. In addition, you can never be certain how you might react to the cold; you’ll enjoy winter swimming safely when you invite friends along.
  • Remember to change into Merino wool base layers as soon as you’re back on dry land. Merino wool has an exceptional ability to insulate body heat – even when moist!
  • You’ll get the greatest benefit from your ice bath by not wearing clothing or swimwear. Textiles absorb water and will make you colder. It’s also more difficult to get warm after swimming, because you spend time removing cold garments. By swimming in the nude, you can jump right into your wool clothes, and this will trap the heat generated in your body by the cold water.
Ice bathing with Kari Traa Ice bathing with Kari Traa

FOR EXTRA COMFORT: Combine your ice bath with a sauna session. Nothing compares to hopping into a toasty sauna after a dip in winter waters!

What equipment is required for winter swimming?
  • You’ll need a towel for drying off.
  • Make sure to bring Merino wool base layers to put on immediately after to regain heat.
  • Bring a beanie and wool socks, too.
  • A hot drink in a vacuum bottle will add to the cozy feeling!

This is what you need for ice bathing!