Can You Take a Hot Shower After An Ice Bath?

Can You Take a Hot Shower After An Ice Bath?

Alright, let's get into it.

Quick answer: it's not.

Let's break down why, with no fluff, just straight facts and actionable insights. All of the info below is based on my research and my personal experience taking cold plunges almost daily for the past 5 years.

Understanding the Immediate Reaction to Cold Plunge

First things first, let's talk about what happens when you take an ice bath. Your body goes into shock—heart rate spikes, blood vessels constrict, and your body thinks it's about to freeze to death.

This isn’t just about enduring discomfort; it’s about leveraging that discomfort to get serious benefits.

Cold plunges reduce inflammation, speed up muscle recovery, and give you that mental edge. They force your body into a state of high alert, triggering a cascade of hormonal responses. You're basically hacking your body’s natural recovery processes, pushing it to adapt and get stronger.

How Long After Cold Plunge to Shower?

Experts recommend waiting at least 30 minutes before jumping into a hot shower after an ice bath. Why? The cold constricts your blood vessels, reducing blood flow and inflammation. But jump into a hot shower right after, and you dilate those vessels again, increasing blood flow and potentially inflammation.

Me? Well, I recommend not getting anywhere near a warm shower if you want to keep feeling that beautiful dopamine and energy boost for the rest of the day.

Now, as we'll discuss shortly, the only exception to this will be if you are doing Contrast Training. But generally speaking, to really get the benefits out of your cold water therapy, then it's better to wait for your body to naturally and gradually increase its temperature.

Drawbacks of Hot Showers After a Cold Plunge

Potential Impact on Recovery and Adaptation

"By skipping the hot shower right after the ice bath, you let your body heal better. Slowly warming up prevents the sudden blood flow changes, making recovery smoother. This way, you get the most out of your cold therapy."
                                                        - Dr. Jennifer Rodriguez, Sports Physiologist

It's not that it's going to harm you or anything, but all the benefits and wellbeing that you're seeking with cold exposure will disappear.

Try it out and test it for yourself.

That beautiful feeling of getting out of the cold bath and feeling like you're the most powerful beast on the planet will be gone as soon as you step into a warm shower. And don't get me wrong—I love warm water too— but if I'm doing a cold plunge to either feel amazing or to help with my sore muscles, then immediately taking a hot bath defeats the entire purpose.

When it comes to recovery, the sudden heat causes vasodilation, increasing blood flow rapidly and potentially leading to increased inflammation. This counterproductive move can negatively affect your muscle recovery, leaving you feeling more sore and fatigued than if you'd let your body warm up gradually.

Lastly, by avoiding a hot shower right after cold water exposure, you will allow your body to react and adapt to the cold, making you stronger and more resilient.

Alternative Warming Methods

If your goal with the hot shower after your cold sessions is to warm up, then I'll recommend the following:

1) Get used to it :) I promise, after taking regular ice baths for a while you'll be so used to the feeling that your body will easily and quickly warm up after each session.

2) Get moving. Light exercise, like jogging or some dynamic stretches, will get your blood flowing and warm you up naturally. This keeps the benefits of the cold plunge intact while helping your body adjust.

Another trick? Bundle up in warm clothes and sip on something hot. Tea, coffee, or even hot water with lemon. This is about warming up from the inside out without shocking your system.

You can also try Wim Hof's horse stance: Feet wide, knees bent, hips low—like you're riding an invisible horse. While holding this power stance, you breathe deeply and deliberately. This isn’t just some woo-woo stuff; it engages your major muscle groups, gets your blood pumping, and generates serious internal heat.

Contrast Training

This is where you switch between hot and cold repeatedly, usually involving ice baths and saunas.

Here’s how it works. You start with your ice bath—get in, tough it out, let your body hit that cold shock response. After a few minutes, you jump into a sauna. The heat dilates your blood vessels, flushes out toxins, and promotes muscle relaxation. You go back and forth like this: cold, hot, cold, hot. Each transition forces your body to adapt rapidly, enhancing circulation and boosting your recovery processes.

But there’s a key point here—always end with cold. Why? Because finishing on cold helps lock in the benefits of reduced inflammation and improved muscle recovery. It leaves your body in a state that’s primed for healing and growth.

Contrast training isn’t just about physical benefits; it’s a mental challenge, too. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, forces you to endure and adapt. It’s about building that mental toughness, the kind that translates into every area of your life.


What's the reason you want to rush into a warm bath / shower after your cold plunge?

Is it because you simply need a shower? Well, then just take your warm shower BEFORE your cold bath session.

Is it because of the extreme cold and you can’t seem to warm up? As we previously discussed, hot water won't help in the short term or the long term. There are much better ways to warm up, and using hot water will never give your body the opportunity to adapt to the cold.

Or is it just because you love the feeling of a warm, nice shower? I get it and don't get me wrong—I love warm water too— but why don't you just leave it for later? Maybe before bedtime or after your workout (see whether to take ice baths before or after a workout here).

In my opinion, regardless of the reason of why you're looking to take a hot shower right after your cold exposure, it's just not worth as it you'll ruin all the potential benefits of your cold exposure therapy.

If you're doing cold therapy as part of your recovery process or to aid with muscle soreness, then you'll potentially end up with more inflammation.

If your goal is to energize yourself and start the day feeling like a Spartan warrior, then the warm shower will take all of this away from you by relaxing your mind and muscles. And again, I love this feeling—but not first thing in the morning when I'm looking to get shit done.

And finally, iIf you want to forge mental toughness and build discipline then ... come on, should I even say anything else?