When ice bathing, the body cools down quickly. As a result, the body’s defenses are set in motion, the blood vessels contract and the shock triggers a cocktail of endorphins and adrenaline into the bloodstream – this also carries risks. Read my ice bath rules, which will contribute to a safer experience.
- Always have someone with you when you’re going ice-bathing! No matter how excessive a ice bather you are, you can always get into trouble. When bathing in extremely cold water, the body is exposed to shock and many things can thus go wrong.
- Pay close attention to the location you choose to check to see if you can get back up quickly. If there is ice on the water be especially careful – feel free to bring an ice pick and check the water for loose ice before swimming.
- When bathing in winter, please do not duck your head underwater! This causes greater shock to the body and head, more frequent cooling, and greater risk of fainting, among other things. It is safer to have your head underneath when swimming in Autumn and Spring, as the degrees in the water are not so extreme.
- Don’t run into the water. This is a mistake especially many beginners make. By running out into such cold water, the body will go into “panic mode”. This makes you feel by instinct that you need to get up as fast as possible, causing extra physical stress.
- Be sure to bring equipment that can quickly warm your body after bathing, preferably a windproof and extra warm robe, woolen socks, a warm hat, wool leggings and wool sweater.
- Wear tight-fitting wool socks when bathing, as the icy water won’t hurt your feet as much and your body won’t cool down as fast. Mittens as well as a hat can also be used to prevent too rapid cooling and increase the likelihood of being in the water for a longer period of time.
- Be aware of the weather! If it’s too windy, I usually don’t bathe, as wind increases the risk of catching a cold or getting ear infections.
- Listen to your body – it gives you a clear message when you should step up from the water. If you practice regular ice bathing, you will “endure more” eventually, especially as you mentally train yourself to deal with such a situation.
- If you are feeling cool, you should save the ice bathing for another day, especially if you have a fever or have a cold. Most of all, you should be warm before a winter bath, by type of physical activity or by dressing extra well.
- In case of heart problems, consult a doctor before embarking on ice bathing. I would always recommend talking to your doctor before starting bathing in extremely low temperatures, as this is an extreme sport and can lead to fatal consequences.
Swimming in freezing water is not just for fun, it is about preparing properly and taking the right precautions. That being said, ice bathing is one of the best things I know, and it has many health benefits – perhaps most of all mentally.