We know from recent studies that immersing yourself in cold water has many therapeutic benefits including a boost in energy, mental clarity, and athletic recovery. One of the questions we are asked most often is “What is the difference between an ice bath and a cold shower?.” In this article, we will explain some of the benefits and pros and cons of both.
Differences - Ice Baths & Cold Showers
Taking a cold shower is probably the most affordable way to get some benefits from cold therapy. Simply turn your shower all the way blue (cold), start your stopwatch, and start breathing through the uncomfortable cold.
An Ice bath or a cold plunge on the other hand is much different than a cold shower. The goal here is to fully submerge yourself in cold water up to the neck. These cold plunges or ice baths can be filled with water and ice or use an electric chiller unit to chill to the desired temperature. The recovery benefits from a cold plunge or an ice bath are far greater than a cold shower because the muscles are submerged rather than occasionally impacted by the shower.
Temperature - Is a cold shower better than an ice bath?
Although waking up in the morning and hopping into a cold shower will absolutely get your blood flowing, it is not necessarily as beneficial as an ice bath or a cold plunge. The first reason is the temperature of a cold shower is typically around 55-60 degrees in the summer months and can drop below 45 degrees in the wintertime. The optimum temperature of a cold plunge depending on experience is anywhere from 37-50 degrees which is much colder than most cold showers.
Coverage - Cold Water Immersion
When it comes to coverage and cold water immersion a cold plunge or an ice bath will win every day. As you know when you take a shower you are constantly rotating to allow the water to reach different muscles and body parts. In a cold plunge or ice bath you are fully submerged in cold water allowing your whole body to reap all of the recovery benefits.
Conclusion - Which is better?
There are many options when it comes to cold therapy. The right choice for you really depends on your goals, budget, and time. We believe that if you are seeking athletic recovery benefits and budget is not an issue that an ice bath or cold plunge would be the way to go. For a more in-depth review of the best cold plunges and ice baths on the market please view the link below.
THE TOP 9 COLD PLUNGES OF 2023 + THE HEALTH BENEFITS