The Do's and Don’ts of Ice Baths

The Do's and Don’ts of Ice Baths
  • In recent years, ice baths and cold therapy have exploded in popularity, but it’s a practice that’s been utilised by athletes and many well-being advocates for decades.


In this blog, we’re providing a beginner’s guide to ice baths, including:

  • How to prepare for your first plunge
  • Looking after yourself during and after
  • What temperature to start with
  • How long you should stay in during your initial sessions.

Before you take your first plunge

It’s important to be ready for your first plunge. Ice baths will be a shock to the system during your first initial attempts.

One preparatory step we’d encourage is having a cold shower before your first plunge, even if it’s just turning on cold water at the end of your shower for a minute or so. 

This can be a great way of gauging how immersing yourself in cold water will feel, allowing you to set clearer expectations and limits for yourself during the first plunge. Having this knowledge will also help you get the most out of an ice bath and its benefits.

Health Considerations

Ice baths aren’t suited for everyone. People with certain health conditions may be at risk of adverse effects from ice baths, and as such are advised to avoid this practice. 

No matter your health, it is recommended you speak with a doctor before considering an ice bath, especially if you have any of the following health conditions:

  • Poor blood circulation or high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or a heart condition
  • Pregnant
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Venous stasis

Taking an ice bath alone – is it a good idea?

When first starting with ice baths, it’s recommended you have someone nearby, such as a friend, family member or physical therapist, in the event you experience any unpleasant effects during or after your plunge. 

It can be hard to predict how your body may respond to a sudden drop in temperature, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Things You’ll Need

For your first and subsequent plunges, there are items worth having on hand both during and after. First, you’ll either want a purpose-built ice bath or a bathtub you can fill with cold water and ice if needed. 

It’s good to have a thermometer handy to ensure you hit the right temperature range.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the bath. This can be as simple as wearing a light T-shirt and shorts, but you can opt for a bathing suit or additional coverage to help you better ease into the cool temperatures.

You’ll want dry clothes on hand that you can put on after your plunge. We recommend warm but breathable clothing like a long-sleeve shirt and track pants. 

Have a rubber mat or bath mat ready for when you get out, and make sure a dry towel is within arm’s reach. Don’t forget your timer, either! You don’t want to stay in for an excessive period.

How Cold Should an Ice Bath Be?

While it may be called an ice bath, the objective is not to immerse yourself in freezing cold temperatures. Rather, the ideal temperature range scale sits between 8°C and 15°C.

These temperatures are cold enough to trigger the specific health benefits that ice baths offer without being so low that they could pose the risk of serious health issues like hypothermia. 

You don’t want to start with the coldest temperatures for the longest duration. You can slowly acclimate bit by bit, working down to 15°C, assessing how you feel, and then incrementally lowering the temperature to 8°C over time.

Our Energise Ice Bath goes down to 0°C and produces ice, but we also recommend working down to that temperature over time.

How Long Should I Stay in an Ice Bath?

Everyone has different tolerance levels for the cold, and it’s important to know where your own tolerance lands.

When first doing an ice bath, aim for no more than five minutes; but don’t hold yourself to that target. If you’re already finding it hard to stay immersed after 30 seconds or a minute, step out - there’s no need to keep going if you feel genuine discomfort. Consult a doctor or medical professional beforehand if you are not sure. 

For the next immersion, you could try a slightly warmer temperature or keep the temperature the same and aim to push beyond your initial time. 

Ice baths may feel unnatural at first, so you’ll need time to acclimate and feel comfortable for longer sessions.

Remember: this ice bath is for the physical and mental health benefits it can provide. As long as you’re getting those benefits, that’s what matters.

How to Set Up an Ice Bath?

Setting up our Kiva Wellness ice baths is easier than you think, no matter the model you opt for such as the Kiva Energise™ Real Cedar Barrel 0°C Ice Bath

All you generally need to do is set your ice bath where you want, making sure it’s on a flat surface. From there, connect the chiller, fill the bath with water to your desired level, and make sure the bath and chiller are plugged in and turned on. Then let the chiller begin cooling.

Set up is simple. Just make sure to double-check the specific instructions included in your ice bath’s manual.

The 3 Pillars of Ice Baths

First popularised by famed ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof, the three pillars refer to three steps best utilised in conjunction to yield the most benefits.

These pillars are:

Pillar 1: Breathing 

A seated breathing exercise involving slow, deep breathing through the nose with gentle exhalations through the mouth 30 times per set. After the last exhalation, hold your breath for as long as you can, then take one final breath (a 31st inhale), hold for 15 seconds, and exhale. 

This exercise engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps in reducing stress levels.

Pillar 2: Cold Therapy

The benefits of cold therapy are typically experienced after three minutes of immersion.

Pillar 3: Commitment & Willpower

Commitment and willpower are, to a certain degree, a byproduct of the breathing and cold therapy exercises Wim teaches. Controlled breathing and committing to regular cold therapy require a great deal of focus, self-control, and willpower. 

Committing to these for the long term and combining them with mindfulness practices help facilitate willpower as a more prevalent default state you can tap into.

What Do I Do After an Ice Bath?

The steps are very simple, focusing on getting out safely and the post-care steps you can take so your body warms up naturally.

Getting Out Safely

No matter how long you’ve immersed yourself in an ice bath, take it slow when getting out. This allows your body to slowly acclimate from the cold back to moderate temperatures.


Once out of the bath, dried off and dressed, you’ll want to warm up naturally. Don’t jump in for a warm shower, but rather undertake a moderate activity that allows your body to warm up on its own.

This can include a gentle walk, yoga, or stretching. Just take it easy and observe your body’s state. 

Ice baths can be exhausting at first as your body gets used to the shock of changing temperatures, so have an energising snack on hand afterwards to help boost your energy levels.

If you’re interested in experiencing cold therapy at home, check out our collection of ice bath tubs.

Got questions? We’re happy to answer! Get in touch today.