WHY YOU SHOULD TRY COLD WATER THERAPY, AND HOW TO START
How does waking up and jumping right into bone-chilling cold water sound?
It sounds kind of miserable, right?
Well, as it turns out quite a lot of guys are starting their day with a very cold shower (or even a cold plunge into a lake). Are these guys crazy? They could be, but it’s more likely they’re taking advantage of cold water therapy.
Coldwater therapy is simply spending time in cold water. There are actually quite a lot of powerful health benefits that come with cold water therapy, some of which might just motivate you enough to take the plunge! Three benefits we are focusing on today;
- Improves mood and focus
- Boosts metabolism (fat burning)
- Decreases inflammation and pain
We’ll dive more into these benefits and let you know how you can take advantage and start incorporating coldwater therapy into your routine.
#1 Improve mood and focus
Coldwater immersion appears to cause a release of mood-boosting chemicals known as neurotransmitters (or, “feel good” chemicals). The release of these chemicals is linked to an increase in mood & focus, while also helping to decrease levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
#2 Boost metabolism
Research suggests that exposure to cold water increases our metabolism. See, when our bodies get cold we burn more calories in order to try to get warm again. Coldwater therapy actually acts as a calorie-burning booster shot for our metabolism. This can help us burn more calories throughout the day, and is actually a big help for weight loss.
#3 Decrease inflammation and pain
The days following a hard workout are often accompanied by muscle soreness. This is known as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which can be quite painful. Coldwater therapy can help reduce pain levels and inflammation in the days following a hard workout.
Alright, now that we’ve made some strong arguments and hopefully convinced you to opt for cold water therapy, let's talk about a few ways you can incorporate it.
The quickest and easiest way to take advantage of this therapy is through cold water showers. Some might even say, it's as easy as turning on the shower to ice cold and jumping in!.
However, jumping straight into a 5 minute cold shower is usually too much of a shock for our system. Unless you’re already used to cold water therapy, most of us are just going to jump straight back out of it. In that case, we end up missing out on all of the benefits from the cold shower.
One of the best ways to avoid this is by slowly easing into them. To do so, start with a warm shower. Over the course of a few minutes slowly keep turning the water to a colder and colder temperature until you reach as cold as you can go.
You can do a couple, quick bursts of 30s-1minute or try and push for just one long stint of 2-5minutes.
By easing into the cold shower you’re setting yourself up for success!
Full immersion ice baths
Cold showers are the easiest way to add cold water therapy to your day. However, full immersion ice baths (or cold water plunges) might be the most effective.
A full immersion ice bath is simply sitting in a tub full of ice water.
These ice baths are so powerful for muscle recovery that most professional sports teams offer their athletes full immersion ice baths after games. NFL players routinely soak in ice baths for up to 5 minutes after their games.
Setting up an ice bath takes a little leg work, but is pretty easy.
Ice bath in 3 easy steps:
- Fill a bathtub about halfway up with cold water.
- Dump 5-8 large bags of ice into the tub. Let it sit for a couple minutes
- Slowly lower yourself into the icy water. Ideally, you’ll want to hang out here for about 3-5 minutes.
Frequent ice baths can be helpful, but I get that not everyone wants to constantly go out and buy bags of ice just to sit in it. Ice baths are an awesome weapon to have in your arsenal, and I wanted to mention them as another viable option especially after an intense physical session.
Coldwater therapy has a ton of positive benefits, but it does take time to get used to. One of the best ways to start using this in your own routine is to start by slowly easing into cold showers. Over time you’ll be able to tolerate the cold water for longer and fully reap the benefits.