The Mandatory Cold Plunge Guide to Personal Salvation While Freezing Your Balls Off (And Not Dying in the Process)
The fountain of youth may actually be a frozen pond. Practitioners of cold plunging (the act of dipping your body into dangerously cold water for minutes at a time) swear by the health benefits. In fact, the entire nation of Denmark has taken to plunging into the frigid Baltic Sea to combat depression during the long winters. Sound insane? A little bit. But there’s also a method to the madness.
Sudden exposure to extreme temperature changes can increase mitochondria production (the party animal living in your cells), reduce inflammation, and give you a rush of endorphins as your body fights to stay alive. But the goodness doesn’t end there. From increased alertness and boosted immunity to improved skin and hair, freezing your balls off never felt so good.
Humans began throwing themselves into freezing ice floes in pursuit of wellness way back in antiquity, but the movement gained steam in modern times with the formation of the Polar Bear Club in 1920. For a hundred years, the old men who donned nothing but a speedo as they jumped headfirst into arctic waters remained little more than a fascinating spectacle – half-crazed Canadians who we all just assumed had a thing for snow.
Nowadays cold plunging isn’t just reserved for fishermen in Nova Scotia. The practice has become a “hot” wellness trend with hydrotherapy spas adding the experience to their menu of delights. Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow is super into it and Madonna drinks her own pee afterward, but don’t let that ruin it for you. Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Liam Neeson have gone glacial glam, while pro athletes rely on the anti-inflammatory goodness of ice baths for faster recovery times.
Funny how often wellness trends and gratuitous torture look exactly the same (and personal salvation for that matter). But with science quickly catching up to anecdotal evidence of cold plunging, it’s hard to deny the rewards of fending off the icy hand of death on a regular basis. If you’re looking to spice up your routine and are ready to take the plunge, be sure to check out our survival guide below. And don’t forget to bring a thermos of hot cocoa, for afterward, to dip your balls in.
Cover Photo: mihtiander (Getty Images)
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Use the Buddy System
For safety reasons, always take the plunge in the company of a real person. DMing someone on Tinder doesn't count (neither does FaceTiming your mom.)
Check the Weather
If you're hitting an outdoor plunge spot, be sure to check the forecast ahead of time. Hypothermia would just love for you to get caught in a freezing blizzard right after your death dip.
If you have a history of heart attack or stroke, you should probably stick to lukewarm plunges, old man. For the rest of us, prevent the risk of body shock by acclimating first, either with a cold shower or standing naked in the wind for 20 minutes.
Don't Don the Liquid Scarf
Contrary to popular belief, it's not wise to liquor up beforehand. Sure, drunkenness can act as a great numbing agent, but in the long run, will counteract the health benefits and play ping pong with your capillaries.
Empty Your Bladder
A full bladder is a heat loss culprit. Preserve your core warmth by unloading ahead of time. Besides, no one wants you peeing in the pool, dude.
Have a Warm-Up Plan
Envision your post-plunge warm-up plan. Though your head will be clear from the cold, you might be shivering so badly you can't find your skivvies. Place warming tools nearby to help your homeostasis rebound in a reasonable amount of time. Eventually, you can do as this Swedish ice nymph does and chill like it's Miami Beach.
Go For It
When the moment of truth comes, don't think twice. It's called a plunge for a reason. Rip off your fear like a bandage and there'll be far less blood.
Keep Your Wits
The next few minutes of your life can either be torturous or religious - it's up to you. Your brain will tell you to flee as death wraps an icy hug around you. Master those thoughts and focus on your breathing. You'll be fine.
Tune in to Your Body
A quiet mind is an observant one. Listen to your body. Feel every pore and blood vessel as it contracts. Your body will tell you exactly when to pop out of that frosty douche like a toaster strudel on Red Bull. And remember, in near-freezing water, two minutes max.
Bring Hot Cocoa
You know exactly what to do with your hot cocoa, good sir.
Change Into Warm Clothes
When the deed is done and it's time to return to civilian life among the dry and comfortable, be sure to bring some fresh clothes to change into. Trust us, walking a Minnesota mile in dripping wet boxer briefs is not as comfortable as it sounds.
Get Your Affairs in Order
Listen, everything will probably work out fine. But in the off-chance you're in that tiny percentile of doomed divers, you'd better get your affairs in order. Leave extra food for the dog, tell your mom you love her, and write out your last will and testament leaving your collection of unfinished peanut butter jars to your girlfriend. You'll be glad you did - though we're like 89 percent sure you'll totally survive your first cold plunge (if you follow this guide). Now go out there and get yourself some frozen balls.
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