As we find ourselves in the peal of winter, we are confronted with the winter swell. Although most of us gear up to stay warm amidst the cold, did you know cold water exposure is considered therapy? Cold water therapy promotes health and manages disease. Although it seems like a new age trend, it is actually an ancient practice. Some of the main uses for cold water therapy include pain management, muscular injury prevention and recovery and mood boosting effects.
The History of Cold Water TherapyCold water therapy has been used for thousands of years by cultures around the world. The ancient Greeks used it for therapeutic and relaxation purposes. The Roman physician Claudius Gaklen prescribed it as a treatment for fever. Studies made in the early 2000s showed that cold water influences circulation and influences muscle regeneration.
The most recent promoter of cold water therapy has been Wim Hof also known as the “Iceman”.
How it WorksWhen you expose your body to cold water, it causes the blood vessels of the submerged area to narrow. This forces the blood flow to your organs. Water also exerts pressure on the body which promotes blood flow to major organs such as the heart, brain and lungs. When more blood moves to your major organs it is able to gather more oxygen and nutrients.
As soon as you emerge from the cold water, those same blood vessels expand. This causes oxygen and nutrient dense blood to be pumped back to your tissues helping to remove waste products such as lactic acid and lowers inflammation. Disease can only arise with inflammation. The absence of inflammation is the absence of disease.
In the long-term, cold water therapy strengthens your blood vessels due to the intense constriction and dilation.
Cold water therapy can be done at home or at a studio.
How to Get Started
Cold showers at home can be an entry into cold water exposure. However, the most beneficial form of cold water therapy are ice baths.
If you are new to cold water therapy you may want to begin with cold showers before you plunge into an ice bath.
When you feel ready, fill your bathtub with the coldest water coming out of your tap. Try to sit in it for two to five minutes. The objective is to work your way up to ten minutes. You should get out when you start to shiver. This is your body telling you that you’ve reached your maximum time for the day.