Cold Water Therapy – What Is It and What Are Its Benefits?
With many people searching for effective ways to boost their health and wellness, cold water therapy has proved to be a popular option. Exposing the body to cold can produce multiple health benefits, both physical and mental.
The process uses the discomfort of cold water exposure to encourage the release of healing hormones, change neural pathways and create adaptations within the body.
Ice bath therapy is used by athletes, trainers, and natural health proponents for its range of excellent benefits. If you are looking to reconnect with yourself and the world around you, cold water therapy can help you to rest your body and mind.
What is cold water therapy?
Cold water therapy uses water at cold temperatures, at around 15℃, to produce health and wellness benefits. It can be used to treat certain health conditions or improve performance for athletes and other active people.
Also called cold hydrotherapy, it’s an ancient practice but can be performed in several modern ways. Cold water therapy might involve taking an ice bath, cold showers, wild swimming, and cold water immersion therapy.
Health influencers everywhere can be seen demonstrating the benefits of cold water therapy, but it’s not just a celebrity trend. The physical and mental health benefits can’t be understated and it can become part of your regular routine.
How is cold water immersion used?
There are multiple uses for cold water therapy to bring benefits to your life. Some athletes and their trainers make use of it to treat muscle soreness and promote faster healing, among other things.
However, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefits of ice cold water immersion. Many people incorporate it into their daily lives, whether by taking brisk showers every day or taking a dip in their nearest wild swimming spot.
It’s not expensive to get started with your own cold water bath. The beauty of a freestanding ice bath is that you can place it wherever you want and enjoy the calming effect of nature at the same time as the therapeutic benefits of a cold water plunge.
What are the benefits of cold water therapy?
Cold water therapy has health benefits that help you to achieve greater wellness in mind and body. Studies have shown that cold water immersion can do everything from boost your immune system to providing pain relief and even treating depression.
Physical benefits of cold exposure
One of the benefits to physical health of cold water therapy is delayed onset muscle soreness and reduced soreness.
Several studies have shown that athletes who use cold water immersion after intense exercise experience less muscle soreness. This is due to the constriction of the blood vessels, which reduces blood flow and helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. It can help to promote healthy blood circulation and improve the function of the lymphatic system.
Immune system boost
Cold water therapy may also help to improve the health of the immune system.
A Dutch study tested whether the use of cold water immersion, deep breathing techniques, and meditation could improve participants’ ability to fight off an infection. When exposed to a bacterial infection, the participants using these techniques reported fewer symptoms compared to those who didn’t use them.
Nervous system health benefits
Your nervous system may benefit from the effects of cold water immersion. This can have the effect of reducing pain, improving your sleep, and more. Water at cold temperatures may slow the transmission of pain signals to the brain, boosting the body’s natural healing powers while also providing pain relief.
Other physical benefits of cold therapy include cooling the body down more after exercise and even helping to boost the metabolism.
Mental health benefits of cold water immersion
Mental health benefits can also be gained from the use of cold water therapy. Some studies have shown that the symptoms of depression and anxiety can be improved by regular cold showers, ice baths, or cold water swims.
Cold water therapy can be combined with other activities that are good for mental health. For example, wild swimming also gives people the opportunity to get outdoors and can help them to maintain a good routine.
You can enhance mental performance and increase your energy levels and mood with the use of cold water therapy. It releases endorphins, raises your levels of alertness, and improves your overall well-being with the regular use of cold therapy techniques such as ice baths and taking a daily cold shower.
It can help to raise your stress resilience by exposing you to a quick physiological stressor. It’s also excellent for helping you to feel a sense of achievement and maintain a healthy routine.
The growth of ice baths as a therapy tool
The practice of using cold water in a therapeutic way is definitely not new. People have been using the healing power of water at cold temperatures for thousands of years, but it has also enjoyed a burst of popularity in recent years.
People want to use cold therapy not just for its direct physical and mental health benefits but also for how it can be used to get out into nature. It can also be combined with other tools such as deep breathing exercises and meditation to provide a wealth of health and wellness benefits.
How to get started with cold water therapy
If you’re interested in cold water therapy, getting started is easier than you might think. Before you begin, it’s important to consider whether you have any health problems that could mean it’s not suitable for you.
If you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, or asthma, speak to your doctor before trying cold water therapy.
Seek cold water benefits
You don’t need to have your own ice bath or secret wild swimming spot to get started with cold water therapy. You can also book a session to try it out and find out how it can help you to transform your life.
If you want to be able to enjoy cold water therapy at home or wherever you might like to take the plunge, you can choose to buy your own bathtub or even convert a chest freezer into a cold plunge.
It’s not particularly costly to get the equipment that you need, and you could soon start to enjoy the benefits of cold water immersion.