The Benefits of Cold Water Therapy
Cold Water Therapy, also called cold plunges, ice baths, and immersion therapy, involves submerging yourself in freezing-cold water to get your blood moving. It’s an effective way to increase circulation and stimulate the immune system, as well as boost mental health and energy levels.
The shock of going from hot to cold can help ward off circulating viruses, according to studies that have shown that people who switch to cold showers (even for 30 to 90 seconds) call out sick from work 29% less than those who don’t take this simple action. The cold immersion also triggers shivering, which burns calories and helps the body shed excess fat.
It also reduces inflammation, which can make muscles sore and achey. This is why some athletes, such as a soccer player in a 2020 study, use cold water immersion to speed up muscle recovery. It also boosts the body’s production of endorphins, a feel-good neurotransmitter.
However, it’s important to start slow and gradually acclimate your body to the temperatures. A cold shower can be a good place to start, as it is easier on the body than immersion therapy in chilly lakes or bodies of water. It’s also recommended to talk to your doctor before trying cold water therapy if you have preexisting medical conditions, especially heart or blood pressure problems, or nerve disorders such as diabetic neuropathy. You should also avoid prolonged exposure to cold water, as it can lead to hypothermia, which is when the body’s internal core temperature starts to dip.