Cold Therapy Transforms Lives

Cold Therapy Transforms Lives

Confession time! I’m addicted to ice.

Or, as Plunge would say, “Cold is My Medicine.”

Every morning, and many afternoons, I jump in to 41 degree water for a minute.

Crazy? Probably. But the more I do it, the more I think it’s crazy not to do it.

Journey to Cold AF

My buddy Nathan had been telling me about Wim Hof’s research for at least five years, but it wasn’t until seeing this batshit insane video last year that I decided to give it a try:

This vid forced me to drop excuses about not trying cold therapy, since:

  1. If they do this in the coldest place on earth, I cannot complain lol
  2. Nikolai’s reasons why he’s jumped into ice water every morning for 50 years are extremely intriguing

After trying it a few times last winter, I was hooked, and looked more into the underlying mechanics. Andrew Huberman’s summary hits most of the major benefits, but for me personally the biggest benefit by far is the astounding mental clarity. For hours after each session, I feel in full control of my mind. I think of the effect as what it must be like to not have massive ADHD.

How to chill?

How do you get cold if you don’t live in Yakutsk?

  • You can build a great cold setup for a couple hundred bucks if you have a day and basic mechanical skills. Google DIY cold plunge and you’ll see hundreds of plans, even reddit threads.
  • You can order converted freezers for a couple thousand.
  • Cold showers can work in certain climates, but strange as it sounds, I would rather take the hit of immersing in cold water than do a really cold shower – those hurt worse in parts of the world with a cold water table! Cold showers are seasonal, hit and miss by geography and specific plumbing setup, and truly cold showers are somehow more painful than immersion.
  • You can do cryo at a local spa/flotation place. I haven’t tried cryo but hear great things.
  • There is a fast-growing market of professional at-home cold plunge setups. This is the route I wound up taking once I understood the massive benefits firsthand.
Plunge is quiet and compact, and easy on the eyes

I personally took the plunge on a Plunge after doing ~10 hours of research on different units. I think it’s possibly the best health investment I’ve ever made, since it does so much to make the daily plunge habit easy, accessible, and enjoyable:

  • While pricey, it’s a fraction of the cost of comparable high end units, AND seems to deliver the best overall value when stacked against them.
  • In Plunge, the water circulates. It’s hard to describe the difference this feature makes until you’ve experienced it yourself. Guys who are accustomed to 34 degree water for X minutes will only be able to do a fraction of X at 41 until they adapt to the extra heat sinking power of the circulating water.
  • It’s very low maintenance, with a very clear easy maintenance protocol.
  • The system includes UV and a filter to keep the water super clear.
  • It looks pretty cool, like something you’d see in a high end spa.
  • It’s not super bulky, like some of the high end units. Some of those could take up a huge chunk of back yard / patio for no discernable reason.
  • One note on Plunge: you might want to go for the XL if you want to fully submerge. I’m only 5’8″, but had trouble doing full submerge in the regular model. Full submerge is a powerful multiplier of effects once you’ve worked up to that level. Ideally you’re 100% under for as long as you can stand it, with the regular unit it can be a challenge to fold up enough to get it done, and you’ll end up displacing a ton of water in the process.

Frosty tips

Even if you’re like me and despise cold showers, go try immersion for yourself. It hits different. If you live in the bay area, DM me to come try the Plunge here, or find a local spa that offers cold immersion. Or fill your bath tub with ice water and get in there. It will probably take a couple of tries to “get it.” Stick with it.

What about while traveling? In addition to the sleep hacks for founders hotel hacks, I now make sure the room has a tub, and just about every hotel has an ice machine, so maintaining the routine while on the road is very easy.

Breathing technique is important, but I find that good breathing is mostly reflexive – you’re either going to start hyperventilating and bounce out of the cold, or be forced to get your shit under control – fast. The calmed, measured breathing sticks around for hours afterward.

Cold therapy pairs great with heat therapy. I also got a cheap-y backyard infrared sauna and love doing both. But if you have to pick one, my strong suggestion is cold, even if sauna is way more comfortable.

Who could cold therapy help?

Any human – there are numerous studies about the boosts to immune system, well-being to think that there’s something for everyone in cold therapy.

Founders in fast-moving, high stakes environments. I think daily cold therapy is possibly the most important tool to achieving sustained creative synthesis outside of deep sleep. The massive focusing power, calming meditative state and mental toughness from cold therapy are reasons enough that founders should give it a try.

Elderly and people with chronic pain. The cold pulls inflammation from the body, and with it the pain of aching joints, muscles, etc. In its place you get huge, natural dopamine boosts that last for hours. This could really help folks with arthritis. It would be really cool to see more cold therapy in nursing homes and multi-generational projects.

Addiction-prone folks looking for a better bath. You get most of the “high” of opiates without the perilous side effects or slippery slope. How many people on the cusp of slipping into a life of addiction would benefit from this insanely powerful source of wellness? Could we see cold therapy in places like Tenderloin district – offering folks a way up and out of their situation?

I hope you try it for yourself and have a great experience!