What is cold water therapy? Cold water therapy means immersing your body in cold water (water that’s less than 20°C but ideally below 15°C). Cold water therapy can involve taking an ice bath, a cold shower or having an outdoor swim.
How does it work? Cold water immersion effectively activates and invigorates the body’s own healing powers, it resets your nervous system, bringing a state of calm and clarity to the mind and body. It has numerous benefits, perhaps the most well-known include aiding muscle recovery and joint pain, and to help healing after injuries. It’s a great option for helping speed up recovery after exercise, which is why so many elite athletes are fans of doing ice baths. There is also emerging evidence that cold therapy could help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and boost immunity. Cold therapy can improve circulation, deepen sleep, reduce inflammation in the body, improve energy levels and boost metabolic rate – and therefore aid weight loss. The cold can also have bonuses for skin, improved circulation around the body and enhanced delivery of oxygen and micronutrients, can make the complexion appear more radiant and healthier.
It's not just physiological We have got used to living very comfortable lifestyles, constantly on devices, everything delivered on demand, in cosy houses. This means that our resilience to external stressors has diminished. Simply put, if we can challenge ourselves to come out of our comfort zones with something like cold water immersion, this can translate into the rest of our lives. People have reported increased self-esteem and the confidence to try new things, or change things in their lives that have been holding them back.
Is it safe? Cold water puts your body under stress. This is how it’s believed to produce many of the positive effects, like boosting the immune system. But it also means it can be dangerous if not exercised with caution. Cold water immersion can trigger:
cold water shock – an automatic response where your heart rate increases and you lose control of your breathing
arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders)
hypothermia, when your core temperature gets too cold
BUT – knowledge is power and the benefits when done safely can be transformational!