The Dangers of Deliberate Cold Exposure (Ice Bath Safety)

Cold Water Risks

There are three main risks associated with deliberate cold exposure, especially when it comes to practices like ice baths: drowning, hypothermia, and cardiac arrest.

Drowning from cold water explained.

The shock of the cold water can cause gasping and hyperventilation, which may lead to water inhalation and, in extreme cases, drowning. It’s crucial to enter the water gradually, especially for beginners, to prevent this involuntary reaction.

Hypothermia from cold water explained.

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Extended exposure to cold water can lead to hypothermia, as your body may struggle to maintain its normal temperature.

Cardiac Arrest from cold water explained.

The abrupt change in body temperature when entering cold water can put significant strain on the heart, potentially leading to cardiac arrest, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

16 Cold Therapy Dos and Don’ts

Before you jump into an ice bath, it’s important to follow these guidelines:


  1. Don’t start without advice if you have medical conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions, especially heart-related issues, can increase your risk during cold water therapy.
  2. Don’t push too hard. It’s important to listen to your body and not force yourself to withstand colder temperatures or stay in the water longer than comfortable.
  3. Don’t make the water too cold at the beginning. Start with lukewarm water and gradually lower the temperature over time.
  4. Don’t stay in your ice bath too long. Limit your time in the cold water to prevent hypothermia.
  5. Don’t quit after one dip. Cold therapy is a process, and it’s normal not to feel comfortable right away.
  6. Don’t practice alone, have a buddy nearby. In case of any unexpected reactions, it’s safer to have someone around.
  7. Don’t Ice Bath Before Your Workout. Cold therapy is better suited for post-workout recovery.
  8. Don’t take a warm bath or shower soon after your cold session. Contrast therapy has its benefits, but it’s better to allow your body to raise its temperature naturally and gradually.


  1. Do seek advice from a cold therapy coach or Wim Hof instructor. They can guide you through the process safely.
  2. Do prepare mentally and physically for the experience. Take time to understand what you’ll be going through.
  3. Do practice controlling your breathing. Proper breath control can help you manage the initial shock of the cold.
  4. Do stay aware of your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to get out of the water.
  5. Do stop if you feel unwell. It’s always better to be safe and stop the practice if you start feeling unwell.
  6. Do take a dip after exercise. Cold therapy is a great way to aid recovery after a workout.
  7. Do warm up slowly. After your ice bath, allow your body to warm up naturally.

Some great ways to warm up after an ice bath are:

  • Stretch out in the sun.
  • Dry off with a towel and dress in warm layers.
  • Have a warm drink, such as coffee, soup, or tea, or eat something. Foods that are rich in healthy fats, protein, and iron, such as eggs, can help you warm up.
  • Light activity, such as walking at a comfortable pace, can
  1. Do enjoy a warm drink afterwards. Sipping on a warm beverage, like herbal tea or a hot cup of cocoa, can provide internal warmth and comfort, aiding in the natural rewarming process. This can be a soothing and enjoyable way to conclude your cold therapy session.

Are you ready to embrace the cold?

Ready to dive into the world of cold therapy? Remember never go it alone! An experienced cold therapy coach or Wim Hof instructor can guide you through your ice bath journey safely and effectively. With professional advice and personalised coaching, you can maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. Contact me today to schedule your first cold therapy coaching session and start your journey to wellness with confidence and support.

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