Most people wouldn’t think an ice cold shower is the best way to start your morning. It can be far from gentle and sometimes feels downright agonizing. However, a plethora of well-recognized athletes and celebrities are coming to discover the benefits of cold-water immersion therapy. On the surface, the main purpose of this therapy seems like it shocks your body into wakefulness, and while that is a part of it, there is a lot more to it than that.
Immersing yourself in cold water is a great way to activate the natural healing powers of your body. It can relieve you from a variety of symptoms caused by a range of medical conditions, promoting a sense of physical and mental well-being. While research into the effects is still in its early stages, when done regularly, cold water therapy can result in a multitude of health benefits including long lasting changes to the lymphatic, digestive, circulatory, and immune system, which improves your overall quality of life.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of owning an immersion pool, but that does not mean that they have to deprive themselves of cold water therapy. Instead, you can just stand under a cold shower or even pour cold water over your body to reap some of the treatment’s benefits. Are you still on the fence about whether cold-water therapy is right for you? Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the common health benefits associated with cold-water immersion therapy.
What is Cold Water Therapy?
Whether it’s done through cold showers, ice baths, swimming, or another method; cold water therapy also referred to as cold hydrotherapy or cryotherapy involves immersing yourself in cold water to stimulate the body and treat various conditions. While the concept has been around for a long time it has more recently grown in popularity due to its potential benefits.
Why You Should Make Cold Water Therapy a Part of Your Regimen
As mentioned earlier, immersing yourself in cold water can be great for different body systems. Your nervous system, in particular, can undergo a significant improvement, helping you manage stress and develop your will power. With that said, here are just a few reasons why you should consider adding cold water immersion therapy to your routine.
It Can Boost Your Mood
It’s no secret that thousands, if not millions of people lead stressful, anxiety-filled lives, and can’t find a way to manage their stress. Believe it or not, while cold water isn’t a cure for mental health issues, making it a part of your daily regimen can help you minimize, and in some cases, even eliminate stress and anxiety. A research study conducted in the mid-2000s suggested that people who took cold showers on a regular basis, paired with some adjustments in their lifestyles, noticed a significant improvement in their moods.
The scientific reasoning behind this is that cold water stimulates mood-improving neurotransmitters that regulate our stress levels. In fact, in many cases, when done regularly cold water immersion might be an effective (and safer) alternative to improving your mood than prescription medications.
Another study indicated that people who swam regularly during the winter seasons felt more active and energetic compared to those who only swam during summers. So, if you find yourself struggling with stress or depression, know that immersing yourself in chilly, cold water could improve your mood.
Minimizes Inflammation and Pain
People who are injured often notice inflammation, shortly after getting hurt. Athletes, in particular, notice swelling even after intense training sessions. Initially, the only solution people had for this problem was to rest for long periods. However, studies indicate you can help alleviate your pains and swellings much more quickly with cold water.
A recent research study that explored the effect of cold water immersion on muscle oxygenation supported this concept; finding that athletes who used cold water therapy after exercising experienced less muscle soreness than ones who didn’t.
Doctors have been recommending the highly acclaimed RICE method for many years. For those who don’t know, the term RICE is an abbreviation for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Icing swelling and injuries is known to be an especially effective way to minimize pain, ensuring you can get back into action much sooner. Exposing your body to cold temperature reduces pain and swelling by constricting our blood vessels. It also slows down the transmission from our nervous system, lowering our perception of pain.
While research has uncovered that cold water immersion can help sore muscles it’s best to combine it with other methods like stretching and talking to your doctor about using natural products like CBD oil.
Improves our Lymphatic System’s Circulation
The human body contains a system known as the “lymphatic system”. At its core, this system is a webbing of vessels running through our entire body, removing the microbes, bacteria and waste from our cells, and cleansing our body. This system greatly benefits from cold water. Why? Because unlike blood, which pumps through our body all the time, the lymph fluid doesn’t contain a central pump.
Instead, it relies on the contraction of muscles for pumping lymph fluid throughout our vessels. Not getting sufficient exercise can significantly slow our lymphatic system down or even make it inefficient. This is because inactivity causes the fluid to stagnate, building up dangerous toxins that manifest in the form of infections, joint pains, and in some cases, serious diseases.
Cold water therapy helps contract the lymph vessels, helping the lymphatic system pump fluids in our entire body to eliminate waste. One of the biggest benefits of cold shower therapy is that it triggers our white blood cells, which defend our body against unwanted substances.
In a way, cold water immersion leads to a domino effect in the sense that the water impacts our lymphatic system, resulting in a positive effect on our immune system, ultimately, improving circulation and improving our mood.
Cold Water May Help Your Immune System
Because cold water can help stimulate leukocytes which help fight off infection in your body; it might help you build up a resistance to colds, the flu as well as other conditions.
According to several studies cold water immersion might stimulate the immune system and help you fight certain illnesses; especially when combined with wellness practices like deep breathing exercises and meditation.
Another study looking into the scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body found that immersing yourself in cold water after a long period of time may also improve antitumor immunity.
Cold Water Could Help with Weight Loss
Many people wonder whether bathing in cold water is good for them, especially if they are trying to lose weight. Well, the answer is yes. When practiced regularly, cold water immersion can significantly increase your metabolic system. Besides forcing your body to stay warm, this therapy will also help you burn a lot of calories.
It also has an interesting effect on the fat our bodies produce. Cold water is ideal for people trying to lose weight because it promotes brown fat, which is significantly healthier compared to white fat. Brown fat can help us feel warm in colder weather, improve our endurance, and help us lose weight in the process. That said, if you are trying to lose weight it’s best to pair cold water therapy with a regular exercise routine and healthy diet.
May Improve the Quality of Your Hair and Skin
Many people struggle with dull and/or dry hair and skin that never looks healthy. If you are one of these people, try giving cold-water therapy a chance. People who use this practice every day notice a massive improvement in the quality and appearance of their hair, skin, and nails. This happens because cold water reduces the size of our pores, tightening our skin in the process.
Since cold water does not cause our body to release sweat or oils, our skin and hair don’t become greasy as quickly. What’s impressive about this therapy is that you will retain your oils, which will help your skin and hair stay naturally moisturized, healthy, and balanced.
Additional Benefits Of Cold Water Therapy
Immersing yourself in cold water has also shown promising results for:
- Improving focus and alertness
- Improving cardiovascular circulation
- Improving the body’s cooling response
- Reducing feelings of fatigues
- Improving range of motion
- Calming itchy skin
- Boosting energy levels
A Few Things to Know Before You Start
- Discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you; especially if you have a weakened immune system or serious heart condition.
- Cold water immersion shouldn’t be viewed as a ‘cure-all’ for health conditions but should be combined with other effective treatments and methods.
- It can only take a few minutes to start feeling the benefits of cold water immersion so you don’t have to stay in for long.
- If you are swimming or in public it’s a good idea to have someone with you to keep you safe especially if you are just starting out.
- Remember to warm up afterward to increase your body temperature. Here are a few tips for safely warming up after swimming in cold water.
How to Get Started With Cold Water Therapy At Home
If you are ready to try out cold water therapy for yourself there are several different options you can use at home. Here are a few tips to get started:
If you are starting out with a shower:
- Start with a warm shower and gradually turn down the temperature.
- Some people prefer to just start with a cold shower which is fine.
- Once you have the right temperature remember to take a few deep breaths.
- Try and hold out for as long as you can but not longer than a few minutes when just starting out. Over time try to aim for about 5 minutes.
- As you make it part of your routine, you will be able to spend more time in the shower and lower the temperature even more.
If you are starting out with an ice bath:
- Add ice to water until the temperature is about 50-59°F. Ideally you want to shoot to sub 50 degrees
- Try to stay submerged for no longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
- It’s generally recommended to immerse your whole body for optimal effects but if you’re new to the experience you can start with your feet and legs and then your chest as you get more comfortable.
- We want as much of our bodies in the water as possible above the shoulders. Try submerging your head a few times throughout the practice
- The sooner you get in an ice bath after an intense workout the better the effects so try not to wait too long.
- If you are trying it at home; use a thermometer so you can adjust the temperate as needed with either warm water or ice.
You can also try going for a quick swim in cold water. Just remember to stay safe and exercise caution.
Whatever method you choose it’s important to stay consistent and start slow. Then you can adjust when necessary.
Cold Water Therapy is Really Worth the Try
This therapy may seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you condition your body and mind to embrace and endure cold water, you can start reaping its benefits and enjoy the process. As we discussed, cold water therapy can boost the healing powers of your body and make you mentally stronger.
At Easy Day, we are on a mission to spread natural wellness solutions and knowledge that benefit everyone. We advocate trying out cold water immersion as it shares much of the same benefits and goals as CBD; promoting health and well-being.
That’s why we encourage incorporating both into your daily routine so you can start feeling your best and be ready for whatever life throws at you. Check out our range of premium CBD products and take a dip; so you can start having your own Easy Day.
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