ILLINOIS (WCIA) — During the winter months, you may see people jumping into cold bodies of water for polar plunges. Others do something similar year-round with ice baths after exercising.
Now, one nurse with OSF Healthcare is warning that you may want to think twice before shocking your body.
Anne Orzechowski, a family medicine nurse practitioner, said plunges can help with chronic pain, release endorphins and decrease swelling, but only if you’re in the water for long amounts of time. For the most part, she said the risks outweigh the benefits.
“Some of the people that probably should not participate in a polar plunge are people with cardiac arrhythmias, heart problems, a-fib, people whose heart doesn’t beat regularly or if they have an irregular heartbeat,” Orzechowski said.
She added that when you first get in the water, your body has an initial shock reflex. Your body will naturally gasp.
Orzechowski said your heart rate increases and your lungs contract in the first few seconds.
If you are participating in a polar plunge, or want to add ice baths to your routine she said it’s best to prep your body. You can do that at the end of your showers by turning the water cold for 10-15 seconds.