Cold water therapies: minimising risks

Introduction: Cold water immersion (CWI) is a ‘hot topic’ at the moment. In many countries, there has been an explosion in the number of individuals undertaking CWI for anecdotally claimed mental and physical health-related benefits. These immersions range from static immersions in home-based ice baths and cold showers, to open water swims and dips. Associated with this, in 2021 Her Majesty’s Coastguard in the UK reported a 52% increase in call-outs associated with swimming and dipping and, between 2018 and 2021, there was a 79% increase in open-water swimming deaths (34–61 deaths) in the UK.

The authors encourage people to enjoy the water, but in a responsible way that maximises the potential benefits and minimises the risks. The authors offer some guidance for those participating in CWI, and those assessing individuals’ fitness for participation.

Citation: Tipton M, Massey H, Mayhew A, et alBr J Sports Med 2022;56:1332–133