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How Long to Cold Plunge After a Sauna

The oldest saunas were dug thousands of years ago, and since then, humans realized that induced sweating can deliver amazing physical and mental benefits. But, if you’re trying to gain maximum benefits from using the sauna, you should consider alternating between high heat and ice-cold water. So, how long to cold plunge after a sauna? How does it help your body? Keep reading to find the answers to your questions. 

How Long to Cold Plunge After a Sauna

Some people believe that humans discovered saunas at the same time they discovered fire, and the first intentionally dug saunas were built in Finland about 2000 years ago, where they were lined with limestone. Humans made them work by heating stones and pouring water to create steam. 

Ideally, doing a cold plunge in a unit like the Morozko Forge for two or three minutes after a 20-minute sauna session guarantees a safer and more comfortable experience. It also allows for more physical benefits. 

Some therapists recommend sitting in the icy cold water for up to ten minutes, but not more. In Finland, many people would leave the saunas to roll naked on the snow to help their bodies recover. 

This is called contrast therapy, which aims to boost our circulatory system. Some people also prefer to spend a few minutes in the ice-cold water, go to the sauna, and do another cold plunge. People refer to this relaxation method as the Nordic Cycle because it’s pretty popular in countries like Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. 

Is Doing a Cold Plunge Safe?

If you’re unfamiliar with this therapy technique, you might be concerned about its safety. As a matter of fact, contrast therapy is perfectly safe if done right. 

Exposure to high temperatures boosts our bodies’ adaptational responses by improving blood circulation. After that, the cold temperature will help the blood vessels contract to reduce the blood flow. This can help with inflammation. 

Specialists recommend doing contrast therapy more often and even daily if possible. This is better than spending extended periods in a single session. 

Regular saunas followed by cold plunges boost long-term benefits like decreased fatigue and increased alertness. People can feel these changes by doing contrast therapy at least four times a week. 

What Are the Benefits of Doing a Cold Plunge After a Sauna?

People have been using saunas for centuries to relieve pain, boost relaxation, and help them unwind after a long and tiring day. Doing a cold plunge after a sauna will lead to the following benefits. 

Increase Alertness

After a hot sauna, you might feel too relaxed. Some people can become lightheaded or even dizzy after exposure to high temperatures. Yet, a cold plunge can help their bodies recover by going into a fight-or-flight mode. 

The sudden decrease in temperature from the cold plunge increases the production of adrenaline. This hormone makes your heart beat faster, and your lungs work better, sending more blood and oxygen to your muscles. 

Get Rid of Toxins

Contrast therapy helps your body get rid of the accumulated toxins by inducing sweating. After you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles. Doing a cold plunge after a sauna will help your body flush out toxins to reduce post-workout fatigue. 

Reduce Inflammation and DOMS

Muscle fever or delayed onset muscle soreness happens when your muscles feel tired days after exercise due to inflammation. If a muscle gets injured, you’ll likely feel this intense pain within 72 hours as the body tries to heal it. 

Yet, doing a cold plunge after a sauna can reduce the risk of DOMS and help alleviate the pain. This is why many athletes use contrast therapy after intense practice sessions and matches to help with DOMS and improve their performance. 

Decrease the Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia occur due to the deterioration of protein structures in the central nervous system. 

Studies have shown that improving the levels of heat shock proteins, or HSPs, can regulate the buildup and deterioration of proteins. Therefore, contrast therapy will help increase HSPs and decrease the risk of these diseases. 

Wrap Up

A cold plunge following a heated sauna session is called contrast therapy, and this kind of therapy has been popular in the Nordic region for thousands of years. The primary purpose of this therapy is to shock your body, increasing your fight-or-flight response. 


After a 20-minute session in the sauna, you can do a cold plunge for two to three minutes, up to ten minutes. Some people do a cold plunge before the sauna and another one after it to improve the benefits of their relaxation session.