In an interview, hip-hop superstar Drake said that his favourite feeling is the sensation he gets following a cold plunge. Other celebrities are enjoying this too: people like Russell Brand and Seth Rogan can be seen taking a dip in ice tubs all over the Internet. And on TikTok, videos with the #coldplunge hashtag have about one billion views. Cold plunge, also known as cold water immersion, is when one submerges themselves in a cold bath — sometimes with ice — for therapeutic purposes. But with such prominence among pop culture icons, is this just a fad, or a true form of healing? “There is a wide range of stuff that’s coming out in the research for its benefits,” Sean Meagher, a physiotherapist with Depth Training in Waterloo, told CBC News. “I’d say the two main categories are from the nervous system perspective, and then more from that physiology of the body perspective.” “It does help with inflammation as well,” he added, explaining when the body is submerged in cold water, it helps to flush fluid out of the cells that cause inflammation, and gets rid of it so that the inflammation is reduced. Depth Fitness will be adding a cold tub to the fitness and rehabilitation facility as they move to a new location in the coming weeks. However, they won’t be the only cold plunge in the region. KW Sauna in Kitchener has a cold barrel tub too, which they’d installed back in early 2020. KW Sauna offers “contrast therapy” where patrons can alternate between the stream room or one of the three saunas, and their cold barrel, which can accommodate about five people. The water in their tub is 8 C, but this isn’t a standard for such therapy. Temperatures can vary. Despite the recent trend, Vanessa Faria, a soul therapist who leads guided contrast therapy sessions at KW Sauna, said that cold therapy is nothing new. “It’s funny, right, because it’s huge all over social media,” she said. “Everybody is doing it, and it is really a very ancient practice.” According to a paper in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, cold plunge therapy has been used as far back as 3,500 B.C., but it isn’t without risks. “You don’t want to go too, too low in terms of temperature,” said Faria. “You want to be mindful of that, especially if you’re new, and ideally you don’t want to do longer than you need to. That’s a pretty prime thing.” Faria warns that plunging into water that’s too cold, or for too long, can put a person at risk for hypothermia, and that “best practice is to slowly build your tolerance to cold with a regular cold exposure practice.” During her guided sessions, with beginners she recommends two and half minutes in the tub at 8 C. Meagher suggests fifteen minutes at 15 C. Despite the benefits, is this therapy of the moment, or is it here to stay in the region? “I do see it having some longevity because it has been around for a long time,” Meagher said. He explained that it’s been used by sports teams at the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University over the last decade. “Obviously I think with the availability of Instagram, TikTok, things like that where more people are talking about it, it creates more awareness of it,” Meagher said. “So maybe a fad in the sense that more people are open to trying it, or are excited to try it, but cold tubs have been a part of sports teams for a very long time, so I think it’s something that’s become more mainstream, but I don’t see it really going anywhere in the future either.” It is a priority for CBC to create products that are accessible to all in Canada including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.