Triathlon Training and The Chilling Details of Cold Water Therapy

Cold water therapy, using cold water for health benefits has become very popular among celebrities.  From wild swimming to ice baths, braving freezing water is this year’s coolest wellness trend.

When done right, cold water therapy can feel like a ceremonial right of passage in which you can clear your mind, strengthen your mindset and harness breathwork to control the response of your autonomic nervous system.

The purpose of this article is to explore the concept of cold water therapy in more detail.

What is cold water therapy?

Soaking in cold water can have several benefits for your health, such as making you feel more alert and energetic, reducing anxiety, and decreasing inflammation. It can also help improve circulation.

Exposing yourself to mild stress, such as cold exposure, can have overall health benefits. This is an example of ‘hormesis’, a biological process where mild stress can be beneficial.

The Benefits of Cold Water Therapy

During cold exposure therapy, your body is exposed to cold temperatures for a short period. This can help to improve your mood, reduce inflammation, and speed up recovery from exercise. There are various ways to do this, including ice baths or cold showers. Cold exposure can help to reduce inflammation, improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness.

Physical Benefits

Cold exposure boosts the immune system.

Most people think of cold water therapy as a way to relieve pain or reduce inflammation, but it can also be used to improve circulation and relieve tension headaches. Exposing yourself to cold can increase your body’s production of white blood cells that fight off infection.

Cold exposure improves blood circulation.

The body’s exposure to cold temperatures causes the blood vessels to constrict to preserve heat. Over time, your body will adjust to the cold and your vessels will open wider to improve blood flow. This process is known as vasodilation. Cold therapy can improve blood circulation by causing the blood vessels to dilate.

Cold exposure reduces inflammation and pain.

Studies have found that applying cold to the affected area can help relieve pain and inflammation from conditions like arthritis and tendinitis.

Cold exposure increases libido.

Cold therapy can improve your libido, even though most people don’t think of it that way. Cold therapy has been shown to significantly increase testosterone levels. Testosterone helps to regulate sex drive in both men and women. If you’re looking for ways to increase your libido, you might want to add some cold therapy to your health routine. The results might surprise you.

Cold exposure burns calories.

Cold water therapy is excellent for increasing your metabolism. When you are cold, your body has to work harder to maintain its internal temperature. This process requires energy and thus burns calories. Applying cold to the body has been shown to increase metabolism by 20%, meaning you’ll burn more calories even when you’re resting.

Mental Benefits

Cold exposure gives you a natural high.

When we expose our body to cold temperatures, it tries to maintain a normal body temperature by making adjustments. When you work out, your brain releases endorphins, which produce a feeling of euphoria. The natural high from endorphins helps improve your mood and increase your tolerance to pain.

Cold exposure reduces stress.

When we expose our body to cold temperatures, it also triggers the release of norepinephrine into the bloodstream. Norepinephrine performs two different functions; it acts as a neurotransmitter and as a hormone. It plays a key role in stress and anxiety reduction.

Cold exposure provides positive reinforcement.

By completing a personal challenge like cold water exposure, you can create a positive reinforcement loop that will help you feel more capable of completing hard or challenging tasks. When you take on a new challenge and complete it, you often feel better about yourself. This increased sense of self-worth can help you tackle other challenges in your life with more confidence.

Cold exposure is a great way of socializing and making new friends.

Members of the cold water swimming community are known for their supportive and friendly relationships with one another. Working together towards a common goal can help to create strong bonds between people.

How to Start Cold Water Therapy and Build Up the Practice

I suggest trying small doses of cold water before investing in a barrel for your garden or moving to the seaside. This will help you gauge how you feel about it and if it’s something you can handle.

Step 1 – Cold Shower

The easiest way to get started with cold showers is to slowly turn down the temperature at the end of your normal shower. Take time to adjust to slightly colder temperatures before turning the temperature all the way down to cold.

Start with 15 seconds of cold water and gradually increase the time each week until you can handle 3 minutes. STAY CALM AND BREATHE SLOWLY IN AND OUT THROUGH YOUR NOSE.

A tip for slowly getting used to cold showers is to start by exposing your feet and legs to the cold water, then slowly work up your body until the shower head is above your head so you can get your head under the cold water.

Step 2 – Cold Bath

Fill a bath with cold water from the tap and submerge your body in it.

Enter the water slowly, pausing to allow your body to adjust to the temperature. Adapt your feet and legs to the temperature, then when it is up to your waist, and again when it is covering your shoulders. When you are feeling anxious, try to stay calm and breathe slowly and deeply.

Start by spending one minute in the cold bath, then work your way up to three minutes.

Step 3 – Ice Bath

In places and seasons where the climate is hotter, it may be necessary to add ice to the bath water to lower the water temperature. You should use ice to make the water colder than you’re used to when adapting to cold baths.

A water thermometer can be useful to know the temperature of the water you’re getting into. You will need to experiment with the amount of ice needed to get the water to your desired temperature.

Step 4 – Fresh Water Swimming

If you would like to take this new habit of swimming out into nature, we recommend you start in calm, fresh water that is safe to swim in. Do not swim in areas with strong currents or in areas where there are no other people present in case of an emergency. The power of cold water comes into its own in a group setting.

Step 5 – Sea Swimming

For those who feel confident swimming in freshwater, they may want to try sea swimming. Before diving in, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local conditions, such as how high the waves are, which way the wind is blowing, the tide and current situation, and what the weather is like. This will ensure that your swimming experience is safe. And ensure that there are other people with you.

Breathwork During Cold Water Therapy

It is important to focus on your breathing while doing cold water therapy, however, you should avoid any breathing techniques that could make you feel lightheaded or cause you to faint.

These breathing techniques involve forcing yourself to breathe in and out at a certain pattern, as well as holding your breath for a certain amount of time. There is a risk of losing consciousness and slipping under the water while in water (no matter its temperature).

Breathe in through your nose, exhale through your mouth, and try to make you exhale longer than your inhale. This will help you to stay calm as you adjust to the cold water.

Cold Water Therapy FAQs

What are the health benefits of ice baths and cold showers?

The theory behind this is that cold water exposure sends electrical impulses (happy hormones). Consistently higher blood levels of [neurotransmitters] dopamine, serotonin and B-endorphins [known to have pain-relieving effects] have been measured after cold water immersion.

Is cold water good for muscle recovery?

The cold causes blood vessels to contract and decreases circulation to the area, which reduces both pain and swelling. One reason a cold compress or ice pack is often used after a sprain or muscle injury is that it can help reduce swelling.

Although many studies have reported that cold hydrotherapy can reduce fatigue and muscle pain, it is unclear how it affects performance. There is no evidence that it changes blood markers of muscle damage or inflammation.

How long should you expose yourself to cold water?

How much water weight can you lose in a week is a very individual question that depends on your tolerance, body fat percentage and a multitude of other factors. A good rule of thumb is to keep your exposure to cold water to no more than one minute per degree Celsius so that the water temperature is above zero. E.g. 4 degrees = max of 4 minutes exposure.

The goal should be to slowly build up to the maximum. Do not try to endure four minutes in cold water if it is your first time trying it.

Is cold water swimming better for you than a cold water shower or bath?

In addition to the health benefits you receive from exercise, going for a dip in the water also has benefits. However, in winter you will likely need a wetsuit, neoprene hat, gloves, and shoes to stay in the water for any length of time. A cold shower may be a safer way to cool down than swimming in cold water or taking an ice bath. With a shower, you have more control over the temperature, how quickly you cool down, and how long you stay in the shower.

What temperature does your cold shower or bath need to be to experience the benefit of cold water therapy?

Any cold temperature will have positive effects. The longer you train your body to adapt, the longer you will be able to last. Just like how the body responds to training for a marathon.

Some possible health benefits of taking ice baths or cold showers include improving circulation, helping to relieve muscle soreness, and reducing inflammation. Additionally, exposure to cold temperatures has been shown to boost immunity and help fight off infections.

The thinking behind this is that exposing yourself to cold water generates electrical signals to the brain, which in turn releases happiness-inducing hormones.

People who immerse themselves in cold water regularly have been found to have higher levels of dopamine, serotonin, and B-endorphins, which are all known to have pain-relieving effects. Additional benefits to taking cold showers are said to be improving the immune system and increasing metabolism.

Can cold water therapy help you lose weight?

There have not been any formal studies done yet, but some believe that our metabolism increases by 350 per cent when we are submerged in water that is below 14 degrees Celsius. This would mean that cold-water treatments could play a role in weight management, as they would activate our brown fat (the fat that keeps us warm).

How do you take a cold water shower at home?

You can gradually lower the temperature over time, starting with a brief interval and lengthening it as your body becomes accustomed. Breathing is everything. Try different breathing exercises to not only increase your tolerance for air deprivation but also to improve your body’s oxygen use during strenuous activities.

To do the Wim Hof breathing method, you take 30-40 deep breaths through your nose, exhaling through your mouth. Then, you immerse yourself in cold water. He calls this ‘fire breathing’ as it warms you up from the inside out and makes it easier for your body to handle colder temperatures.

Can anyone use cold water therapy?

You should always seek medical advice before trying out any new cold water immersion methods. The treatment can cause an irregular heart rate and high blood pressure, so it is not recommended for people who already have heart conditions or who are sensitive to cold temperatures. The temperature you use should make you feel uncomfortable, but not to the point where it’s unbearable.

Final Thoughts

Today, we spend most of our time in places with controlled climates. We have become less able to endure difficult situations. By reconnecting with the natural abilities we have within ourselves, we can greatly improve our physical and mental health.

In other words, each person’s relationship to cold water is unique. The journey of cold water therapy and immersion is personal and unique to each person. One option I would recommend exploring further.






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