Cold Water Therapy
Why Did I Try It?
Honestly I was curious, if so many people rant and rave about something, there must be some good in it right? Let me start by saying it was freezing. The water was a low 9 degrees and when I placed my first foot into that water, I promise you I nearly chickened out. The icy water took my breath away and it felt like I couldn’t think of anything other than I can’t do it. It was only half an hour after the ice bath that I actually felt pretty amazing. So many people asked me what it does, why people would do it and what the end result of this craziness is, so I decided to give you all the details here.
What’s All The Hype About?
It’s not only athletes that are doing cold water therapy these days, so what is all the hype about and what are the benefits?
When you expose your body to cold temperatures you reduce inflammation and improve recovery of sore muscles. When one sits in cold water, blood vessels constrict and when you get out, your blood vessels dilate. This helps to flush away metabolic waste. Ice baths constrict and open blood vessels manually, helping stagnant fluids in your lymph nodes move throughout your body. Increased blood flow floods your cells with nutrients and oxygen. Ice Baths keeps your immune system strong and your inflammation levels very low. Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases like asthma, autoimmune diseases, coeliac disease, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. You could work up to ice baths by starting to take cold showers – gradually turn the water cold during a shower and stand under the cold water for about 15 seconds working your way up to longer cold showers.
Frequent exposure to cold is linked to many different health benefits – exposure to cold can speed up metabolism. Another benefit of exposing your body to cold is that it reduces inflammation, swelling and sore muscles – many athletes use ice baths and other types of exposure to cold to speed up recovery after physical exercise. Cold body therapy is also linked to improved quality of sleep, more focus and even to an improved immune response.
Taking ice baths will train the vagus nerve – this vagus nerve is linked with the parasympathetic nervous system and training it can help you face stressful situations more adequately. Ice baths or cold therapy benefits you mentally – you are facing your fears and every time you have completed your session, overcoming your limitations, you will feel that you have accomplished something, you will feel incredible! Cold water therapy helps you overcome your physical and mental limitations – you are exposing your body to different stresses and stimuli, which makes you more resilient and prepares you for challenges in your life.
When taking an ice bath, especially to start with, the temperature needs to be approximately 10 – 15 degrees. Limit your time to no longer than 10 – 15 minutes. If you decide to take an ice bath at home, use a thermometer to help you achieve the ideal temperature when balancing the ice to water mixture.
I think my water was too cold for a first attempt but I did it, so maybe it wasn’t. I made just under two minutes but aimed for three. I couldn’t stay in there any longer. My hands started going numb. I couldn’t drop my arms into the water, holding onto the side of the bath helped me to just focus. You know almost like when you are scared and you squeeze someones hand for comfort, this was the same. I squeezed the sides of the bath. I didn’t do it a second time although I wanted to. It was hard, it was tough, it was a huge mind over matter thing but it was so incredibly hard that I want to do it again, and maybe next time it will be easier? I don’t know.
Have you ever done this? What was your experience? Seeing that we are in lockdown now with Covid 19 you might have some extra time on your hands. Perfect time for experimenting with new things. Let me know if you tried it, I would love to know if it was only me that found this first time so incredibly hard but humbling afterward.
Stay safe everyone.