Benefits of Cold Water Therapy
Sitting in a tub full of ice cold water isn’t exactly the most comfortable form of recovery, yet it’s becoming increasingly popular. In this article you’ll find out why so many people are choosing cold water therapy for recovery and why you should too.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What is cold water therapy
- The benefits of cold water therapy
- Easy ways to implement cold water therapy into everyday life
What is Cold Water Therapy?
Cold water therapy is the practice of immersing oneself in particularly cold water (generally between 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit).
Methods of cold water therapy consist of taking cold showers, ice baths, and swimming in cold rivers and streams.
Although cold water therapy is only now receiving a growth in popularity, it has been used for thousands of years across a multitude of different cultures. It's even thought that cold water therapy dates back to 3,500 B.C.E
Understanding Hormetic Stress
When looking into cold water therapy and its benefits, it's vital to understand what’s actually going on from a biological perspective.
The physiological phenomena known as “hormetic stress” is the main biological function that causes many of the health benefits that cold water therapy has to offer. Essentially, the idea is that putting your body under small doses of stress can actually be a good thing.
Research shows that while chronic stress can heavily damage the body in many different ways, acute or hormetic stress can rejuvenate cells and even form new neural pathways in the brain.
Other studies show that while chronic stress accelerates the process of aging throughout the body, acute stress in manageable doses does the opposite. Forms of acute (hormetic) stress include cold water, saunas, exercise, and many more.
5 Ways Cold Water Therapy Can Improve Your Health:
Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Researchers found that cold water therapy caused a significant reduction in inflammation in the body. It was also found that through this process, cold water therapy helps aid the body in recovery from excess inflammation.
Athletes regularly use ice baths for this exact reason: to treat excess inflammation in their body and allow their bodies to perform at a high level again.
Boosts the Immune System
Not only does cold water therapy strengthen the body by increasing anti-inflammatory responses, it also boosts the immune system.
Research found that brief trials of cold water therapy provided an improvement in the immune system.
It was even found that more consistent usage of cold water therapy helped fight cancerous tumors and provided aid to cancer patients.
Combats Anxiety and Depression
Cold water therapy’s benefits extend far beyond the body. Certain studies suggest that cold water therapy can help combat symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Because cold water therapy notably decreases inflammation throughout the body, this also can lead to a decrease in stress and anxiety.
One particular study detailed a woman who treated her depression with cold water therapy. A follow up one year later, after practicing cold water therapy, said that it had significantly helped treat her depression. She also detailed that she was able to get off her medication because of cold water therapy's health benefits.
Brings the Body Back to Homeostasis
One of the main changes that takes place throughout the body during cold water therapy is the changing of the body’s internal temperature.
Typically, the ideal internal body temperature is around 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit, however, during cold water therapy, the body’s internal temperature can cool down significantly.
Because of this change in temperature, the body returns back to a state of natural balance, known as homeostasis.
Being in a natural state of homeostasis, provides a balance in your body and allows your body to naturally thrive.
Because cold water therapy helps bring your body back to a state of natural balance, this can provide an increase in focus, boost of energy, and a sense of peace and clarity for many people.
Many people report that cold water therapy can even be somewhat of a meditative experience that allows the body to tap into many of these benefits, and align yourself towards your body's natural greatness.
How to Get Started
It's one thing to be knowledgeable about cold water therapy, but it's a whole other world to practice it. That being said, here are a few ways that anyone can get started with cold water therapy:
- Start with taking cold to warm showers
- Go straight into cold showers
- Once you're comfortable with cold showers, start using ice baths and cold plunges
- Finally, try taking a swim in a cold river or body of water
But before you try cold water therapy, make sure you know how to practice it safely. Exposing the body to extreme temperatures comes with its risks, especially for those who are not adjusted to the cold.
Always start slow and limit your time in the cold. Spending extended amounts of time in cold water without training your body to adapt to cold temperatures can result in serious medical injuries.
And always have someone around in case of an emergency when you first start experimenting with cold water therapy.
If You Read Anything, Read This ...
Cold water therapy has been around for thousands of years, but is only now gaining popularity amongst the wellness community. Its benefits for not only the body but also the mind are undeniable, and are sure to improve your health in an abundance of ways.
As long as you practice these methods safely and knowledgeably, cold water therapy can be a wonderful outlet to detox from stress and inflammation, boost your immune system, and bring your body back to its natural balance.