4 Benefits and Downsides of Cold Water Therapy.

How often we box ourselves into our safe little comfort zones out of fear of being uncomfortable. All growth requires change, and change is uncomfortable, but as you push yourself beyond your comfort zone you find that it’s not all that scary and the next time gets easier. Before you know it you’re living the life you dreamed. Because as we all know, everything you want is on the other side of fear.

When you train yourself to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations everything in your life changes. You will find that 99% of your problems go away simply because you are no longer afraid to face them. You’ll begin to see that most of your problems only existed in your head.

Coldwater exposure is a fad these days. The idea of getting in a pool of ice or dipping into glacier water doesn’t sound like a holiday to most people, but it just might be the thing to push you out of your comfort zone.

If you follow breathwork or cold exposure you’ve no doubt heard of the Ice Man, Wim Hof. This wildly eccentric guy has broken dozens of records and has been the subject of many studies about what cold water exposure does for your nervous system, immune system, inflammation, and willpower.

There are many out there doing their version of this technique. It all comes down to using your breath to calm your mind while putting your body under extreme stress. There are numerous well-documented benefits to sitting in the cold, both physically and mentally. The most obvious benefits you will feel right away. What you won’t feel right away are the physiological changes taking place, but if you continue to practice this form of therapy you will begin to notice huge shifts in your life.

Below are 4 Benefits of cold water exposure that will help you get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  1. Boosts your immune system

When you expose yourself to ice-cold water your blood vessels contract. All focus moves to protect your core where all your vital organs live. Your lymphatic system, responsible for flushing waste and bacteria from your cells, is essential for cleansing your body. It relies on muscle contraction to pump lymph fluid through your vessels. If you are inactive these fluids become stagnant and toxins build up resulting in colds, infections, and disease.

Coldwater therapy causes your muscles to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump fluid throughout your body. This helps flush waste and triggers the immune system’s white blood cells into action. They attack any unwanted substance, leaving you more balanced and healthy.

  1. Increases Circulation

Cardiovascular health is so crucial to our overall health. When blood isn’t flowing properly throughout your system your heart becomes stressed. This leads to all kinds of health problems like…

  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle cramping
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Any effort towards improving your blood circulation lowers your risk of these health problems while boosting your immune system, your metabolism, and your focus.

Coldwater immersion stimulates your blood flow. As stated above when practicing cold water therapy all your blood is rushed towards your vital organs for protection. This forces your heart to pump more efficiently. When you get out of the cold, blood rushes back down to your extremities like your fingers and your toes. Carrying with it fresh oxygenated blood to every part of your body which improves circulation.

  1. Reduces Inflammation

We’ve all seen the athlete resting an injured arm in cold water. You probably used an ice pack after spraining your ankle or jabbing your elbow in the wall. Why? To help bring down inflammation. The cold not only reduces swelling but can numb your nerve ending and bring immediate relief to any pain you may be experiencing.

Upwards of 90% of all disease in our modern world is a result of inflammation. If you can learn to relieve yourself of inflammation you are on your way to a long healthy life.

  1. Improved Focus

Anytime we are faced with an uncomfortable situation and force ourselves to get through it we become more mentally tough.

Coldwater exposure is a fast way to pull you from your comfort zone. When you are forced to deal with the stress of 37-degree water, every moment is a practice in focus. Mentally you must stay strong, bringing your mind to a place of ease over and over again. Visualizing your breath moving through your body and supporting you. You can either freakout or get real honest with what is happening and stay present in the moment.

Doing this for 2 minutes in the cold will get easier with time and then you grow to 5 maybe 10 minutes in the cold. In turn, your focus in all areas of your life will sharpen, allowing you to be more productive and intentional in your life.

The Downside.

Although the benefits of cold water therapy are many there are a couple of things to remember before you dive in.

  1. You are shocking your body.

This sends you into a fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response. Your body immediately goes into survival mode and will start acting in that way by shutting down all unnecessary functions.

***It’s important to go gradually into this practice or be done with a guide for your safety.

  1. Your heart rate will increase.

As your blood vessels restrict you will put pressure on your heart to pump efficiently. If you have high blood pressure or heart problems it is wise to talk to your doctor before engaging in this method of therapy.

  1. Risk of epileptic seizures.

The sudden shock may cause people who suffer from seizures to produce a trigger in their brain, causing a seizure.

  1. You will be cold.

It will be cold each and every time you do it. That is a fact. But you may begin to notice that it doesn’t bother you as much as time goes by. You may even begin to notice yourself looking forward to the cold.

Persistence

Like many things, this takes practice. You can begin today in your shower or sign up for a guided opportunity. Getting a group of friends together or your office team could be a great bonding experience. The key is to stick with it. The lasting effects far outway a one-time try. It requires your patience and persistence. You must learn to focus the mind and body.

Try first in your shower by just putting your hands and feet in the cold for 10–15 seconds. Then move to your back, or one shoulder at a time. Eventually getting your whole body in there. Try not to judge what’s happening. Allow the cold to be there. Feel it, take it in and learn how to manage your breath so you can try again tomorrow for 30 seconds. Before long you will be 4 minutes into your shower before you realize how cold it is. Stick with it and watch the benefits unfold in your life.

If you are interested in learning more about cold exposure and how to get involved, check out my website at www.heart-lightstudions.com for a list of upcoming workshops, classes, and youtube videos on the subject.

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Breathwork Coach, Pulmonaut Explorer, & Content Creator. Taking it one breath at a time.

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Mary Clymer

Mary Clymer

Breathwork Coach, Pulmonaut Explorer, & Content Creator. Taking it one breath at a time.

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