Wake Up to Cold Water Therapy
Cold water therapy has been used as a means of muscle recovery for years, but recent attention has been given to cold water plunging for many other health benefits. Whether it’s a polar plunge in icy waters or a brisk shower in the morning or post-workout, cold water immersion is becoming a way for many to boost their energy.
Cold water immersion may help decrease muscle soreness, boost metabolism and improve mood and energy. Advocates also say cold water immersion can decrease inflammation, improve sleep and sharpen mental focus.
Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete whose multiple world records for his feats of endurance and exposure to cold earned him the title “The Iceman.” One of his endeavors was climbing Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of shorts. As part of multiple university studies, Hof has shown that cold exposure, deep breathing and the power of the mind can influence the body’s biochemistry. As an advocate for cold exposure’s health benefits, Hof demonstrated how ice water immersion can activate the immune system, fending off sickness.
Hof and others, such as world renowned author and public speaker Tony Robbins, have encouraged the trend of heading from a workout or hot sauna directly to an ice bath or a cold shower as a way of triggering lymphatic circulation and detoxification. The hot/cold experience elevates heart rate, adrenaline and the release of endorphins, which can be beneficial for some but can also be shocking to the system. Therefore, cold immersion should be discussed with a doctor first, especially if there are any health issues to take into consideration.
Cold water therapy should be eased into. Start by taking showers with warm water and gradually dropping the temperature. Hof recommends starting with 30 seconds of cold-water showers and working up to a couple of minutes. Those deep breaths that are taken when being exposed to cold can help regulate the autonomic nervous system, decreasing stress and regulating blood pressure, to name a few benefits. Hof claims it’s addictive.
The next step is filling a bath tub with cold water and adding some ice. Submerge for 30 seconds and work up to no more than 10 minutes or so, according to healthline.com.
If you plan to swim in open water or participate in a polar plunge, make sure you have someone with you. Cold water can have profound effects, so plan for short immersions and ways to warm up afterward.
By Lisa Nicklanovich Photo By www.wimhofmethod.com