Cold Water therapy is the practice of immersing yourself in cold water to reap various health benefits.  It has been around for a few 1,000 years but is recently gaining in popularity.  So what is it and what are the benefits?

In practicing Cold Water therapy, also known as cold hydrotherapy, swimming, bathing, or even showers are all valid approaches. The water temperature should be around 15 degrees Celsius.

As far as benefits, many believe that Cold Water therapy can improve circulation, deepen your sleep, increase your energy levels, and reduce inflammation in your body. While some of these claims have only anecdotal evidence to back them up, other benefits are supported by science.  Let us take a look:

Less Muscle Soreness:

Studies have shown that athletes who soak in cold water for short periods after a workout have less muscle soreness later on.  The reason for this is that the cold water causes the blood vessels to constrict reducing blood flow to the area.  This reduces swelling, inflammation, and the associated pain.

Faster Cool down:

If you are feeling over heated, cold water immersion can help lower your body temperature faster than just resting in a cool environment.  The key is to immerse as much of your skin as possible in the cold water, not just your hands and your face.

Ease Depression:

Although cold therapy is not a cure for depression, certain case studies suggest that it can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety in some people.  In some cases swimming in cold water helped, while for others taking twice-daily cold showers made a difference.

Boost Immune System:

There is some evidence that Cold Water therapy may stimulate your body’s immune system improving your ability to fight illness.

Help With Weight Loss:

Although more research is required in this area, some studies have shown that Cold Water therapy can speed up your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body uses energy and burns calories).  Sadly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a few cold showers will help you lose weight.  More in-depth studies are required.

If you want to try Cold Water therapy and see how it may or may not benefit you here are some suggestions:

  • Always talk to your doctor before trying something new like cold water therapy
  • Start by taking warm-to-cold showers. Start with warm then gradually drop the temperature.
  • Go straight to a cold shower.  This works best when you are hot or after a workout.
  • Try an ice bath. Add ice to water until the temperature is between 10-15C and stay in the bath for 10-15 minutes only.
  • If safe to do so, and definitely not alone, consider a short swim in cold water.
  • Make sure you warm up after the cold water therapy
  • Keep immersions brief.  Start off with only a few minutes and slowly build to 10mins