Cold plunges or ice baths are quickly becoming the newest health trend, as you’ve surely seen your favorite celebrity touting all the advantages while they reluctantly dip their bodies into an ice-filled tub. However, this therapy has been around for a long time (clips of athletes sitting in ice baths post-game may come to mind). While immersing yourself in ice-cold water can be healing, the benefits of cold can be harnessed through other ways as well, such as with whole-body cryotherapy treatments. We’ll explore how cold plunges stack up against cryo. Since most people don’t have their own ice tubs at home, for the purposes of this article we’ll refer to ice baths as the ones at a wellness studio.

What’s the main difference between a cold plunge and whole-body cryotherapy?

The common cold plunges we see in the states today are ice baths; tubs filled with water and ice. The user wears a bathing suit or shorts and a top and sits in the tub for anywhere from 3-15 minutes. The water should be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a thermometer is needed to ensure it is set at the right temperature. Temperatures that are too cold or sitting in an ice bath for too long can lead to hypothermia. 

Whole-body cryotherapy sessions involve a dry room where cold air (-200 to -300 degrees) circulates the entire body. This lasts only 3 minutes (at Icebox we even play your favorite song during the session) and the effects are felt immediately after. 

There are some similarities, though.  Both cold plunges and whole-body cryotherapy employ the use of cold to recover muscles, relieve inflammation and trigger the body into a sort of shock that releases endorphins and dopamine, leaving the user feeling calmer and more relaxed. This release of hormones has been shown to have positive effects on mood and well-being and also increases focus and mental clarity. The power of cold can:

Boost energy

Improve mood

Relieve joint and muscle pain

Reduce inflammation

Ease sore muscles

Aid in recovery after a workout or surgery 

Despite these similarities, there are a few key differences that may make cryotherapy an easier and more favorable experience. 


Ice baths usually take anywhere from 3-15 minutes, whereas whole-body cryotherapy sessions last only 3. If you include the amount of time it takes to change into a bathing suit, dry your hair, and reapply any makeup, one ice bath session can take closer to an hour. 

Currently, there aren’t many locations that offer cold plunge service so you may have to drive quite a distance to find one. Icebox therapy studios have many locations spanning the country so members can visit a studio close to home or while away. 


Ice baths mean you’ll be plunging into cold water, so a bathing suit or clothing you don’t mind getting wet is necessary attire. You’ll need to remember to bring these with you, otherwise, you may have to reschedule your appointment. For a whole-body cryotherapy session, you’re given a comfy robe, socks, and gloves so no extra clothing is required.  


To get a literal head-to-toe experience some people dunk their heads in an ice bath. If you’re someone who styles their hair and wears makeup this could be an issue if you’ve got somewhere to be after your treatment. Having to dry your hair and redo your makeup can be a hassle, especially if you’ve got little time on your hands. That extra hour or so lost can make it difficult to do cold plunges on a whim or in the middle of the day. 

Whole-body cryotherapy involves cold air circulating around your entire body, giving you the maximum benefit from head to toe without the inconvenience of getting wet. So you can get in and get out of the studio in just 12 minutes. It’s the perfect therapy treatment before work, between errands, or whenever is best for you. 


Cryotherapy is generally a more overall pleasant experience. While, indeed, the air is cold, it is gradually cooled down versus an ice bath where stepping into a freezing cold tub can be quite a shock. For anyone who has dipped their toes in a cold pool, you know the feeling of anxiety. And with cryo sessions lasting only 3 minutes, it’s all over before you know it. 


Whole-body cryotherapy has the added benefit of collagen production. The cold temperatures diffused around the entire body boost collagen production. This increase in collagen makes the skin look tighter, more youthful and gives your face a glowing complexity. It’s like getting a facial and whole body treatment all in one!

While cold therapies have many shared benefits, how they’re used can make all the difference. To experience the difference yourself, stop by an Icebox therapy studio today and get to know what total body bliss feels like. 


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