Having an ice bath, cold shower or swimming in icy waters is the trendiest thing you can do for health benefits in 2021. Cold-water immersion has been prescribed by physicians for centuries to ease various concerns from muscle soreness to reducing fatigue. But will this work for you? There’s no harm in looking into it. We delve into the process and benefits below:
How does cold-water immersion work?
The process is like a domino effect, only the domino is blood. Studies show that the major benefit of cold-water immersion is an increase in blood circulation. This means that when you immerse yourself in cold water, your body temperature drops, causing a restriction in blood flow closer to the surface of your body, and a faster circulation of blood by deeper tissues.
Your body’s goal will always be to ensure that you’re maintaining your ideal body temperature so when you have an ice bath or a cold shower, decreasing your body temperature improves blood flow.
What are the benefits of cold water therapy?
Those in need of more than one way to boost recovery, credit cold-water immersion for reduced soreness, less swelling, improved range of motion, and a regulated heart rate.
A 2011 study published by the National Library of Medicine found that cyclists engaged in intense training experienced reduced soreness after just 10 minutes of cold-water immersion.
Before incorporating this practise into your daily routine, it’s important to understand that just as a doctor prescribes medication to treat a condition, cold-water therapy may also be recommended to treat specific concerns and is not to be undertaken without a thorough knowledge of your body’s unique requirements. It’s not for everyone.
To determine whether cold-water immersion will be helpful to your body, consult a doctor before going ahead.
How to practice cold water immersion?
Ever heard of the Wim Hof method? Also known as the Iceman, Dutch fitness Guru, Wim Hof, who holds numerous Guinness World Records for taking the longest ice bath (one of which was one hour, 52 minutes, and 42 seconds) is a major advocate of cold water immersion and its benefits.
Wim Hoff’s method is founded on a blend of breathing techniques, cold therapy, and exercise, which is believed to collectively unlock the following benefits:
- Increased willpower
- Reduced stress levels
- Greater cold tolerance
- Enhanced creativity
- Faster recovery
- Better sleep
- Increased willpower
- Heightened focus and determination
- Improved sport performance
According to Scott Carney, a journalist who documented his experience of the Wim Hof method in a book, the first step is to master your breathing. The Wim Hof breathing technique includes taking 30 quick breaths before exhaling to empty your lungs as much as possible. If you’re not able to take 30 quick breaths, take one quick breath and hold it for 15 seconds, release and then repeat it up to four times.
Daniel Timms, a Sports Coach who was also introduced to cold water therapy by the Wim Hof method, says that the temperature range for an ice bath should be 2 – 16 degrees.
He has also created an ice bath calculator that factors in the initial temperature of the water, the amount of water (without ice), the amount of ice, and the initial temperature of ice to determine the minimum possible temperature of your ice bath. Head to the calculator here.
If you aren’t sure of how long is too long when practicing cold water therapy, one study found that 11 – 15 minutes afforded participants ample time to reap the benefits while avoiding the risks.
Have you tested the benefits of cold-water therapy and had positive results? Share this post with someone who would find it useful.