Let’s face it: Immersing yourself in a tub full of cold water might not seem like everyone’s idea of a good time.
But, while cold water immersion might seem intimidating at first, it can actually offer a host of physical, emotional, and mental benefits. If you’re considering integrating cold water therapy into your daily routine but you’re not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge, we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the benefits of cold water therapy. We’ll also offer up some guidance on starting your own ice bath routine using our innovative Ice Barrel system.
Let’s get started.
What Is Cold Water Therapy?
Also known as cold hydrotherapy, cold water therapy is the practice of immersing oneself in very cold or icy water.
Cold water therapy is commonly used by athletes to recover after competitions and tough workouts. However, innovative new cold hydrotherapy systems, like the Ice Barrel, mean that the benefits of ice baths are more accessible than ever before.
Types of Cold Water Therapy
These days, there are many different types of cold water therapy for you to choose from. Some of the most popular methods include:
- Cold Showers – A quick and simple way to expose yourself to cold water, taking a cold shower may offer some emotional and physical health benefits. However, your average shower can’t produce water that’s as cold as an ice bath or dedicated cold water immersion system.
- Cold Water Immersion – Cold water immersion can take many forms. But, the basic practice involves sitting in a tub or container of cold water (usually under 50ºF/10ºC) for 5 minutes or less.
- Ice Baths – Ice baths are a type of cold water therapy that involves immersing oneself in a container icy water for a short period of time. Ice baths usually involve very cold temperatures that can take a while to get used to.
- Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy is a relatively new type of cold therapy. It involves exposing oneself to extreme cold for very brief periods of time as a way to recover from intense exercise.
Benefits of Cold Water Therapy
Whether you’re looking to recover from a tough workout or you simply want to de-stress, here are some of the many benefits of cold water therapy:
1. Reduced Pain & Inflammation
Cold water therapy has long been a popular option for recovering from a long workout. Indeed, a group of researchers in Hong Kong found that cold water immersion after frequent exercise led to decreased pain and inflammation for up to 24 hours after the workout.
However, cold therapy isn’t just for professional athletes.
While the researchers from Hong Kong didn’t directly address whether cold therapy also has the same effects for people with chronic pain, other studies have found that cold exposure can sometimes help with pain caused by rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and other similar conditions.
2. Increased Metabolic Output
Although many people use cold water therapy as a post-exercise recovery tool, there’s some research that suggests that cold exposure can actually increase your metabolic output.
A 2014 study from the Netherlands found that frequent exposure to extreme cold caused something called cold-induced thermogenesis in humans. This means that exposing yourself to extreme cold could potentially kick-start your metabolism.
For many folks, this increase in metabolism could lead to some weight loss. However, more research is needed to fully understand the links between cold water therapy and weight loss.
3. Heightened Immune Response
Making cold water therapy part of your regular routine could help your body deal with physiological stress. In fact, in a 2019 proof of concept trial, a group of researchers from the Netherlands found that combining cold exposure and breathing exercises elicited an enhanced immune response from study participants.
This might sound like a lot of technical jargon, but the idea is that spending time in the cold can help prepare your body to better manage tough situations. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, the initial study suggests that cold therapy could help us become more resilient in times of physiological stress.
4. Enhanced Mindfulness
While proponents of cold water immersion often focus a lot on the physical benefits of the practice, regular cold water therapy’s advantages extend well beyond your muscles and joints.
In fact, many folks use cold water therapy as a way to become more mindful and in tune with their bodies. Some people even use regular ice baths to help them sleep better or to lower their stress levels. Meanwhile, others use cold plunges to help them reconnect with themselves and find their inner peace.
Although everyone’s response to cold water immersion is slightly different, most people find that it helps them relax and recover from the bustle of day-to-day life.
5. Improved Mental Fortitude
Finally, cold water therapy can also help you build the mental fortitude you need to tackle the challenges of everyday life.
Building up the courage to willingly submerge yourself in cold water on a regular basis isn’t easy. Making ice baths a regular part of your routine can help you build resilience and enhance your mental strength so that you can handle anything that comes your way.
How To Get Started With Cold Water Therapy
Getting started with cold water therapy can seem daunting at first. But, with the right equipment, it’s more than possible to make ice baths and other forms of cold water immersion a regular part of your routine.
Although you have a few different options to choose from when it comes to cold water therapy, using a system like the Ice Barrel is often a solid choice when it comes to fun, convenience, and ease of use.
Regardless of which system you use, though, it’s important to take things slow when you first start out with cold water therapy.
Be sure to discuss any concerns about cold water immersion with your doctor before your first plunge. Also, try to keep your sessions short in the beginning. You’ll eventually be able to build up a tolerance for the cold as your ice baths become a part of your daily ritual.
Cold Water Therapy: A Holistic Approach To Well-Being
Cold water immersion is a simple and straightforward way to help you achieve a number of fantastic physical, emotional, and mental benefits.
Whether you’re looking for new cold therapy methods or you’re considering starting it for the first time, slowly integrating cold water therapy into your regular schedule can pay dividends for your well-being in the long-term.
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