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The In's and Out's of Contrast Therapy

Our Fire & Ice room regimen is a "contrast therapy" regimen that revolves around the use of hot and cold extremes. Below is a quick guide about the benefits of contrast therapy as a whole.

Have you ever sprained an ankle? Tweaked your back? Maybe it was another type of moderate injury that happened somewhere else on your body. Chances are when that injury occurred, you were told to transition quickly between heat and ice. Maybe it was a heating pad and an ice pack, or maybe it was something as simple as Icy Hot gel. Whatever the case, what you were experiencing was a version of contrast therapy.

Contrast therapy is a popular rehabilitation and recovery technique that has deep roots in age-old naturopathic medicine. While the method of contrast therapy we use at Motor City Float gleans its regimen from ancient Scandanavia, many other cultures have been using some form of contrast therapy for hundreds if not thousands of years (i.e. Japanese Onsens, Turkish Hammams, Russian Banyas, etc.).


While these cultures probably didn’t fully understand the physiological mechanisms behind contrast therapy, the pain relief, as well as the mental and physical benefits, were reason enough for them to keep it in their regular health and wellness regimen.

Today, contrast therapy is used most often by athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for quick recovery from training or pain relief from sore muscles and injuries. But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits that contrast therapy can provide – it can be an effective practice for anyone suffering from a variety of chronic, mental, and physical ailments.

While many people have heard of the “hot sauna cold plunge” technique, the health benefits are not always fully understood. The benefits of a “hot sauna cold plunge” go way back to the Nordic cultures who originated the technique - a 20-minute sauna session, followed by a cold water dip or cool shower. Ideally, the hot/cold exposure is repeated until the body is completely relaxed. The “hot sauna cold plunge” technique is intense, and the combination of hot and cold has some definite health benefits. Sometimes referred to as the Nordic Cycle, the “hot sauna cold plunge” triggers the blood vessels to constrict rapidly and therefore elevates blood pressure. The benefits of the “hot sauna cold plunge” are both physical and psychological, and immediately noticeable.

Inflammation Help

People with inflammation-related ailments can experience joint relief with the plunging technique.

Improved Blood Flow

For some, the cold immersion after a hot sauna can improve blood flow. Indeed, cold shower enthusiasts maintain that a cold shower is rejuvenating, simply because of increased blood flow.

Enhancing Pleasure

The hot/cold experience elevates heart rate, adrenaline, and the release of endorphins. This has proven to actually ease pain and lighten the mood. Clearly, the after-effects will vary by individual.

Detoxifying Power

The hot and cold plunging technique has a way of triggering lymphatic circulation. This allows for body waste to be eliminated and for a “flushing” process to have a detoxifying effect on the body.

Soreness Recovery

Sauna heat is noted to decrease muscle aches and soreness.  Cold can also sometimes help joint ailments.

Rejuvenates Skin

The hot sauna/cold plunge stimulates blood flow, and therefore influences skin health. Enhanced blood circulation ensures the quick closure of skin pores, keeping the skin free of germs.

It’s always important to be cautious with the hot sauna cold plunge

Needless to say, the hot/cold experience is not for everyone. For example, it’s not recommended for those who are prone to high blood pressure. In these situations, the extreme temperature change may even be shocking to the system. Additionally, pregnant women should be cautious. When it comes to the cold plunge, experts recommend a momentary plunge – anything lengthy will draw heat from the body and be detrimental. Like anything health-related, the hot and cold technique should be discussed with a doctor, particularly if there are outstanding health issues.

Science-based evidence does support hot saunas and hydrotherapy

Hot saunas, cold plunging, and hydrotherapy are simply extensions of health routines that have been practiced in Finland for a thousand years. The positive health effects have been recognized by the Nordic societies for ages. In terms of scientific evidence, there are many research studies that support the health benefits, as long as safety guidelines are followed, and precautions are taken. Although further research is always needed, the overall benefits are generally accepted.


Immune System Health

Cardiovascular Health




Recovery Time




 Enhanced Membership

90 Minute Session

3 - 90 Minute Sessions



* additional guest cost is $30.

* maximum of 3 people per session.



* additional guest cost is $30.

* maximum of 3 people per session.



* membership includes additional ​     preferred member benefits.  

The Healing Effects of the “Hot Sauna Cold Plunge” Technique



Drink 1-2 glasses or a bottle of water 30 minutes to an hour before you get into the sauna.

Once inside, choose your bench. The top bench is the hottest, and the lower one is the coolest.​​

Pour water on the stones to create löyly (The Finnish word for the steam coming off of the hot rocks.) After 10 - 15 minutes of sweating, move on to step 2.



Before entering the plunge pool, please make sure to do a quick rinse-off using the rainfall shower next to the cold plunge.



Now, onto the most rewarding, yet challenging piece of the puzzle. The PLUNGE!

After a quick rinse-off in the shower and fully submerse your body into the cold plunge.

Once you have submersed your body, feel free to stay in the plunge pool, practicing your breathing, for up to 3 minutes. 
When your body feels ready, move on to step 4



Time to relax. Have a seat on the bench next to the plunge, and let your body rest. 
Allow your body to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before heading back into the sauna.


Once complete, repeat steps 1-4 as many times as you would like, all while being mindful of how your body is feeling.




How Hot? How Cold?

We keep our sauna at 185°f and our cold water at 45°f. We do change these temps slightly if it is very hot or cold outside. If you want hotter and/or colder temperatures for your session please note that on your reservation, we may be able to accommodate if in reason.

How long should I stay in the sauna?

Typically you want to do a 15 - 20 minute session before moving on to a quick rinse in the shower and heading into the cold plunge. If at any time you do feel extremely hot or fatigued you should exit the sauna immediately and have a cup of water while sitting on one of the benches next to the cold plunge.

How long should I stay in the cold plunge?

Generally, you'll want to start with 1 - 3 minute sessions. Do not go any longer than 5 minutes in any given cold plunge session. 

How many people are allowed to use the Fire & Ice room?

No more than three people at a time are allowed to be in the Fire & Ice room.  Three people at a time are allowed to use the hot sauna and one person at a time for using the cold plunge.

Can I do breathing exercises while in the cold plunge?

Deep breathing and breath-holding are prohibited while using the cold plunge and sauna. NO Wim Hof Method!

Is this safe for me?

That’s a great question. You should DEFINITELY ask your doctor if you have any questions about that. Contrast therapy provides many of the same benefits as rigorous exercise, including an increased heart rate. While this kind of stress to your body is beneficial if you’re ready for it, it can also be taken too far to your detriment. These are powerful therapies, so proceed with caution and listen to what your body tells you.

Can the cold pool give me frostbite or hypothermia?

Hypothermia yes, but your body will give you clear signals to get out long before that time. If you get goosebumps and start to shiver during your cold plunge that is natural. It is also common to experience intense feelings of euphoria after a few minutes, along with some temporary impairment to your motor skills. Even these intense physical sensations are still 15 minutes or more before the point where most people would start to get in trouble. Just listen to yourself, and move slowly when getting out.

What are those funny hats people wear in the sauna all about?

Silly sauna hats are great! A sauna is meant to raise your core temp, not to cook your brain. Also, the high heat can cause hair to have split ends. Wearing a wool sauna hat will allow you to stay in longer and get more benefits out of your sessions.


*A sauna hat can be purchased from Amazon.



  • Use of the sauna occurs at the user's own risk.

  • No food or drink besides water is allowed

  • Swimsuit required during sauna sessions

  • Do not touch or tamper with the thermostat for the sauna. Doing so can result in expulsion from Motor City Float

  • If you would like to change the temperature in the sauna, please do not touch the controller. Please talk to an employee

  • Please do not sleep in the sauna.  Doing so is very DANGEROUS and can lead to overexertion.

  • Persons feeling ill or otherwise unwell are prohibited from using the sauna.

  • Pregnant women should not use the sauna without consulting their physicians.

  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol or other impairing chemical substances are not allowed to use any of our services, period!  There is a zero-tolerance policy.

  • Please use caution when applying water to the hot stones. Ensure that no part of your body is directly over any of the stones.     The steam coming off of the rocks is very hot can burn you.


  • Use of the cold plunge occurs at the user's own risk.

  • Elderly persons and those currently suffering from or have ever suffered from any form of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure should not use the cold plunge until they have spoken with their physician.

  • There is no lifeguard on duty.

  • Persons suffering from a communicable disease transmissible via water may not use the cold plunge.

  • Swimsuit required during plunge sessions

  • Persons should not spend more than 5 minutes in the plunge in any plunge session.

  • Children under the age of 13 years are prohibited from using the plunge.

  • Users must shower prior to usage of the cold plunge.

  • Pregnant women should not use the cold plunge without consulting their physicians.

  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol or other impairing chemical substances are not allowed to use any of our services, period!  There is a zero-tolerance policy.

  • Plunge capacity is limited to 1 person at a time.

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