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Cold Water Therapy

Over the last few years, cold water therapy has become very popular. Wim Hof is the person most associated with this, especially since the TV programme with various celebrities putting themselves through his method. Some of which, like plunging into ice covered waters, seemed rather extreme, when sat in the warmth of your house. However the benefits of doing this are numerous and it does not need to be ice cold to gain them.


To achieve these benefits can be as simple as switching your shower down, going for a dip in the sea, or an unheated pool, or you can fill a bath with ice and water and go for the full icey plunge. From an arthritic point of view I personally have found it has had a very positive impact, and this was my main driver to start to get into the water.


Cold water is something that is accessible to us all. The research into this area is increasing as cold water therapy becomes more popular to look at validating the claims that are made about it.


There are many physical and mental benefits some of which are:


Physical benefits:

Boosting your immune system

Improves circulation

Can help to relieve arthritis and reduce autoimmune inflammation

Helps your body recover from exercise

Can increase metabolism

Improve your cardiovascular function

Help reduce hot flushes


Mental benefits:

Reduce Stress

Gives you a natural high

Improve your mind body connection

Help increase willpower

Improve general wellbeing and possibly help with depression


I started to take a morning plunge in my pool earlier in the year. Initially it was around 20º so not particularly cold, but it still took a bit of getting used to! Even though it wasn't cold cold, I still found positive effects from it. It helped me to acclimatise as the temperature dropped. There is something quite magical about swimming as the sun is rising. It is definitely a good way to wake up every morning!


One of the key elements of Wim Hof is about the breath and it is by using the breath you can help to control the mind and to feel calmness even as you enter cold water. The breath is a key part to being able to stay in the cold. Breathwork has such a positive impact on the mind so anything we can do to incorporate it into our day to day lives can only improve our health and wellbeing.


I personally do not follow the Wim Hof method, but I tend to go for my swim after I have done a short meditation focusing on the breath. This enables me to feel calm and relaxed as I get into the cold. It gives the start to the day a good dose of positive energy, and physically really helps when my joints are feeling inflamed or my muscles sore from training.


The best way is to start slowly, beginning with turning the shower to cold at the end of each shower, slowly increasing the amount of time it is cold, and then you can start to take short dips in the water, gradually increasing the time in the water. You need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, as cold water is never that pleasant. It does not need to be for a long time. Between 3-5 mins of cold water therapy has been shown to be enough to have benefits.


So why don't you start today by turning down the shower and then build up to that plunge in the sea, pool or lake? Your body and your mind will thank you for it.


To read more about the Wim Hof Method go to www.wimhofmethod.com

Outdoor Swimmer is also a great source of information about how to safely swim outdoors. https://outdoorswimmer.com/




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