Nordic cultures like that in Finland are said to have been using the “hot sauna, cold water” technique for centuries in order to rejuvenate their mind and body. Some even refer to it as the “Nordic Cycle”, its use is so ubiquitous.
According to the North American Sauna Society, the transition from a hot sauna to cold temperatures causes your heart rate to increase. This move also constricts your blood vessels and sends a sudden rush of adrenaline and endorphins racing through you. This results in an amazing feeling! Your mind is put into sudden focus and your body activated to respond.
Research done in 2021 at the University of Copenhagen showed the benefits of Contrast Therapy might have something to do with your brown fat. Scientists think that alternating between chilled water and a hot sauna affects how your brown fat burns energy and produces heat, which can affect how you keep and lose weight.
In addition, many people find that the combination can:
Ready to try it? Here’s why you might consider combining a warm sauna and a cold plunge routine for that extra bit of “wow”.
Our Infrared Sauna is an effective tool for natural healing and prevention. Infrared light has the ability to penetrate human tissue which in turn produces a host of anti-aging health benefits making infrared saunas one of the “hottest” therapies for overall healthier living. If you want to get yourself back into balance, our infrared sauna may be the ticket to achieving your wellness goals.
Infrared Light and Your Body
Because infrared sauna therapy heats the body directly rather than simply warming the air, it raises the core body temperature and produces a deep, detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where most toxins reside. In addition, far infrared saunas aid in blood pressure reduction & weight loss, burning up to 600 calories in one session!
Blissful Waters uses the most advanced infrared therapy available in the Solocarbon 3-in-1 infrared treatments. The infrared spectrum consists of near (NIR), mid (MIR), and far (FIR) waves, each with distinct characteristics and health benefits.
- Detox: Sweating is the body’s safe and natural way to heal & stay healthy. Far infrared sauna use causes a rise in core temperature resulting in a deep, detoxifying sweat at the cellular level, where toxins reside.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Infrared saunas induce a deep sweat to make the heart pump faster, which in turn increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure and helps circulation.
- Anti-Aging: Near infrared saunas provide the most effective wavelength for healing the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin, stimulating collagen production to reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin tone.
- Cell Health: Near infrared sauna therapy stimulates the circulatory system and more fully oxygenate the body’s cells. Better blood circulation means more toxins flow from the cellular level to the skin’s surface to improve cell health, aid in muscle recovery and strengthen the immune system.
- Weight Loss: Studies have shown that a far infrared sauna therapy session can burn upwards of 600 calories while you relax! As the body works to cool itself, there is a substantial increase in heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories.
- Relieve Pain: Infrared heat penetrates tissue, joints, and muscles to relieve anything from minor aches and pains to chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, and speeds up recovery time.
- Improve Circulation: Infrared sauna treatments are like giving your body a passive cardiovascular workout. Heating the muscles with infrared rays produces an increase in blood flow similar to that seen during exercise. Regular infrared sauna use can significantly stimulate blood flow up to twice the normal rate.
- Heal Wounds: Near infrared therapy greatly enhances the skin’s healing process by promoting faster cell regeneration and human tissue growth.
A (Brief) History of Ice Baths
Ice baths have been healing our bodies for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians and Israelites both used the waters of the infamous Nile and Jordan rivers for healing purposes. The Greeks, (Hippocrates, the father of medicine himself), discovered thermalism- the use of water of various temperatures for medicinal purposes- and the Romans followed suit. Bathing in ice water is now done globally, and participants are reaping the benefits. Ice baths are a part of human history that can’t be ignored!
While cold therapy has been an accepted treatment for acute injuries and post-exercise recovery for over 30 years, new research is showing that cold therapy is safe and effective for chronic diseases and general well-being.
Today cold therapy is providing systemic anti-inflammatory relief, increases positive immune response, and parasympathetic nervous system stimulation. Cold therapy is being applied to provide non-pharmaceutical support for patients with depression and mood disorders, reduction of daily stress and general well-being, chronic disease support including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia among others, and disease intervention.
Cold therapy has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress as well as improving mood and general brain function(Galliera et al., 2013; Hayashi et al., 1997; Jungmann et al., 2018; Kinoshita et al., 2006; Lange et al., 2008; Metzger et al., 2000; Misiak & Kiejna, 2012; Polizzi, 2019; Rymaszewska et al., 2020). The brain releases norepinephrine during cold stress, which is shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Heart rate and heart rate variability are linked to reductions in stress as well, with reductions in heart rate and heart rate variability occurring with cold therapy. Mood and brain function improve through stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Physiological effects are likely mediated by stimulation of the Vagus nerve and modulation of hormones(Jungmann et al., 2018; Lange et al., 2008; Metzger et al., 2000; Polizzi, 2019). This includes weight loss by stimulating growth of brown fat and lowering white fat. Brown fat, often referred to as “good” fat, increases energy burning and is responsible for body thermoregulation. In part through stimulation of the Vegas nerve complex, cold therapy reduces inflammatory responses throughout the body and thus stimulates the body to heal as well as increasing positive immune response for fighting disease and infection. This beneficial response may be what reduces symptoms and inflammatory markers present in blood from autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Let’s Nerd Out a Little
Ice baths work by lowering your body temperature for a short period of time, reducing swelling and inflammation in muscle tissue. The best benefits come from consistent use.
Anything below 60 degrees will benefit you. If you’re new to ice baths, don’t feel like you need to start at 40 degrees straight out of the gate. Ease your way into it, and focus first on developing a consistent practice of cold plunging while slowly decreasing the temperature over time.
Your breath is your greatest asset and anchor. Working your way toward 5-8 breaths per minute is a good goal for activating your sympathetic nervous system. Inhaling through the nose is vital.
While ice baths are safe for most people, there are a few things we recommend you keep in mind. If you have any medical concerns that could be affected by cold therapy, be sure to check with your doctor before plunging. When you finish your ice bath, allow your body to warm up gradually instead of attempting to immediately heat back up. Don’t allow the temperature of the ice bath to be painful in any way, and never go anywhere near 20 minutes.
The good news is, you don’t need to be in the cold for very long to get the benefits, and unless you’re using it specifically as a recovery tool, you don’t need to be in your ice bath longer than 5 minutes. Aim for an ice bath time of around 2-5 minutes maximum. Going longer doesn’t increase the benefits in a meaningful way in most cases, and can be detrimental.
30-60 minute Infrared Sauna session.
Take a shower to remove all the awesome sauna sweat and dry off a little.
Sit on either a bench or the floor whichever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction.
Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Be conscious of your breath, and try to fully connect with it. Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth, and exhale unforced through the mouth. Fully inhale through the belly, then chest and then let go unforced. Repeat this 30 to 40 times in short, powerful bursts. You may experience light-headedness, and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. These side effects are completely harmless‡.
After the last exhalation, inhale one final time, as deeply as you can. Then let the air out and stop breathing. Hold until you feel the urge to breathe again. When you feel the urge to breathe again, draw one big breath to fill your lungs. Feel your belly and chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 15 seconds, then let go. That completes round number one. This cycle can be repeated 3-4 times without interval‡.
Step into the Plunge and slide in so that your ears go below the surface while your mouth stays above. Breathe calmly for (2-3 minutes). The goal is to be in control of your breathing and to calm your mind, so draw on the breath work performed in Step 3 to achieve this. When you have been in the Cold Plunge for 2-3 minutes, dunk your head for a few seconds and get out.
Stand next to the Cold Plunge tub and concentrate on breath control. Do not dry off, or cross your arms. Once you start to feel your warm naturally, (2-3 minutes), return to the Cold Plunge, and repeat Step 5.
You can perform 2-5 sets of cold plunge and exit. Each plunge and exit is 1 set. But remember the goal is to master both you body and your mind.
‡The Wim Hoff Method: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/breathing-exercises
Note: The information provided here is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. Blissful Waters Float Center, its employees, its guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed. Always consult a board-certified Medical Doctor before adding or removing any health or fitness, nutrition or supplementation or drug treatment protocol.
Set the water temperature to a level that will cause you to start shivering after 1-3 minutes of submerging in the Cold Plunge.
Submerge to your shoulders. Don’t fight your body’s urge to shiver, you can even facilitate the onset by shivering voluntarily. Achieve a shiver and keep shivering for 60-120 seconds.
Once you have been shivering for 60-120 seconds, exit the Cold Plunge tub and stand near it, but don’t cross your arms or dry off. Shivering outside the tub should continue for 60-120 seconds.
Once you start to feel your shivering slow down or stop, return to the Cold Plunge, and repeat Step 2
Once you have been shivering for 60-120 seconds, exit the Cold Plunge tub and stand near it, but don’t cross your arms or dry off. Shivering outside the tub should continue for 60-120 seconds, then repeat Step 4 again.
You can perform 2-5 sets of cold plunge/shiver and exit/shiver. Each plunge and exit is 1 set. But remember the goal is not to adapt too quickly to the cold so that you can continue to get the fat-loss effects induced by shivering.
† Accumulation of succinate controls activation of adipose tissue thermogenesis. Nature 2018 (7716):102-106.
‡Huberman Lab Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/AndrewHubermanLab
Note: The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman’s teaching and research roles at Stanford.
The information provided here and on the podcast is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, its guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed. Always consult a board-certified Medical Doctor before adding or removing any health or fitness, nutrition or supplementation or drug treatment protocol.
Welcome to Blissful Waters Float Center located in the heart of The Woodlands Texas. We offer sensory deprivation floats in beautiful private suites designed for your comfort and relaxation. Contrast Therapy with Infrared Sauna and A Cold Plunge Ice Bath.
Mon - Sun: 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM