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The Science Behind Cold Water Therapy

You’ll probably see footage of people jumping into ice-filled bathtubs, having chilly showers, or diving into icy alpine lakes if you browse through your Instagram feed. While you might be tempted to dismiss these achievements as a social media fad, immersing your body in icy water is actually a sort of cryotherapy known as cold water therapy that has been practiced for centuries. All about Ice cold therapy just below. 

According to research, cold water therapy is the use of water to improve health or treat diseases. Although it has a long history, its main uses now are to hasten the healing process after an injury, to reduce joint and muscular discomfort, and to hasten the recovery process after exercise, among other potential health benefits.

Given that the discipline is still developing, research on the subject has primarily concentrated on muscular injury prevention and recovery, pain, and mood. Cold water therapy is therefore regarded as complementary therapy. 

In the realm of sports, fitness, and post-surgery recovery, the concept of using ice and cold water to alleviate pain and promote healing has intrigued scholars and athletes for decades. With the advent of modern research tools and easy access to information via platforms like Google, PubMed, and scholarly journals, the science behind cooling the body through cryotherapy has been unraveled in recent years.


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From the simplicity of icing a sore knee to the sophistication of using polar cooling machines, this age-old practice has evolved into various forms, each designed to optimize the body’s natural response to injuries, inflammation, and physical exertion. 

In this article, we delve into the realm of cold water therapy, exploring the active role it plays in helping athletes and individuals post-surgery, the benefits of compression products in reducing swelling, and the intriguing world of Wim Hof and customer reviews that shed light on the potential of these icy techniques. 

From free and simple home remedies to more advanced cryotherapy methods, the journey through the science and effects of cold water therapy unveils a world of possibilities for those seeking relief, recovery, and peak performance.

Continue reading to learn about the potential advantages and disadvantages of using cold water for medical and health purposes and to decide whether or not it is worthwhile to consider this treatment with your doctor. Do you think you will enjoy ice cold therapy in bangkok?

Cold Water Therapy: A Look at the History

It is imperative to note that cold water therapy has been practiced for thousands of years by various cultures. According to a review published in February 2022 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, cold water immersion, for instance, was recommended by the Roman physician Claudius Galen as a therapy for fever and utilized therapeutically and for relaxing reasons in ancient Greece.

According to the same review, in the early 20th century, doctor Edgar A. Hines published research that contributed to our understanding of how cold water immersion affects the body, particularly its impact on blood pressure and the autonomic nervous system, which regulates physiological functions like heart rate.

Researchers started focusing on cold water and exercise recovery in the early 2000s. According to Mathew Welch, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, “a lot of the research that we see now shows how cold water influences circulation and how that plays into muscle damage that occurs as a result of exercise, as well as some of the cellular processes that go into muscle soreness.” 

As a result, many amateur and professional athletes use cold water therapy to speed up their recovery after training.

Wim Hof has contributed to the rise in popularity of cold water therapy. Hof, sometimes referred to as “The Iceman,” is a Dutch extreme athlete who acquired his moniker by shattering world records for prolonged exposure to cold. His website lists his accomplishments as swimming 217 feet beneath the ice and standing for more than 112 minutes in a container coated in ice cubes. 

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The Wim Hof Method, a blend of breath work, cold treatment, and commitment practices, was developed by him using what he learned from his cold experiences. The method’s proponents assert that it promotes immunity, improves sleep, and speeds up the body’s natural healing processes.

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Cold Water Therapy: How it Works

According to Jonathan Leary, a doctor of chiropractic medicine and the CEO and founder of Remedy Place, a wellness center with ice bath classes in New York City and California, cold water exposure of your body causes the blood vessels in submerged areas to narrow (a process known as vasoconstriction), which directs blood to your organs.

In addition, hydrostatic pressure that the body experiences from the water encourages blood flow to vital organs including the brain, heart, and lungs. Your major organs can absorb more oxygen and nutrients when more blood flows toward them.

These identical blood vessels dilate as soon as you get out of the cold water, according to Dr. Leary. According to a study, when that occurs, the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood is pushed back to your tissues, assisting in the removal of waste products like lactic acid and reducing inflammation.

Leary asserts that there cannot be sickness or discomfort without inflammation. As a result, techniques that reduce inflammation, such as cold water therapy, may be beneficial for a variety of health issues.

Regular use of cold water therapy may also help your heart and blood vessels in the long run. According to Leary, a muscle surrounds every blood artery, so just like performing bicep curls builds your biceps, cold water therapy strengthens your blood vessels. An improvement in your blood vessels’ capacity to transport blood throughout your body, may eventually improve circulation.

You can practice cold water therapy in a natural body of water, at home, in a health club, a physical therapy office, or a specialized wellness center. If you’re utilizing cold water treatment to recover from an injury, improve your athletic performance, or treat a medical condition, it’s better to do it under the supervision of a chiropractor, a physical therapist, or other healthcare professional.

A Look At The Different Types of Cold Water Therapy

If you are looking to partake in cold water therapy, there are a number of options to consider.

Cold Water Immersion

As the name implies, cold water immersion entails submerging a part of the body, a joint, or both in cold water up to the neck. Because you can adjust the temperature, ice baths are a common choice for cold water immersion. 

You can use them at a specialized rehab studio, a physical therapy office, or your home. You can wade into an icy body of water, such as a lake if you reside in a colder climate.

Depending on the temperature and your level of tolerance, you can spend a variety of amounts of time in cold water. 

According to John Gallucci, Jr., DPT, a medical coordinator for Major League Soccer based in Bridgewater, New Jersey, if you stick to the temperature range of 50 to 59 degrees F that some study has utilized, be sure to keep your exposure to a maximum of 15 minutes.


Cold Showers

Even though the advantages of a cold shower may not be as great as those of cold water immersion, according to Scott J. Biehl, DO, an orthopedic and sports medicine doctor at Rochester Regional Health in New York, taking a cold shower is a good way to ease into cold water therapy. 

According to Rochester Regional Health, cold showers may make you feel more awake in the short term, but they haven’t been proven to assist the body recover from exercise-related stress. Dr. Biehl points out that however, cold showers can serve as a starting point for cold water immersion therapy.

Contrast Water Therapy

The difference between this technique and cold water immersion is that it alternates between hot and cold water exposure. Although methods vary, research generally adheres to the following protocol: 

According to research published in August 2018 in the Journal of Athletic Training, you should start by submerging the affected limb or part of the body in hot water (100.4 to 104 degrees F) for a period of 10 minutes. 

You should then alternate between cold water immersion for one minute (46.4 to 50 degrees F) and hot water immersion for 4 minutes until you reach a total duration of 30 minutes. According to this study, contrast water therapy is frequently utilized to encourage recovery and lessen muscular injury in sports and physical therapy settings.

ice bathWim Hof Method

According to its website, the Wim Hof Method blends cold water therapy, commitment practices, and breath work with the goal of reestablishing a connection with oneself and the environment. According to the website, the potential advantages include more energy, less stress, less inflammation, better sleep, and quicker recovery. 

However, case studies on Hof himself make up the majority of the research defending the Wim Hof Method. These assertions would be better supported by a larger study that compares the outcomes of a randomized cohort of people who practice the Wim Hof Method, general meditation, and breathing exercises, as well as others who don’t use any of these techniques, according to Biehl.

In conclusion, the science behind cold water therapy, encompassing cryotherapy, polar cooling machines, and simple ice applications, stands as a testament to the remarkable benefits it offers in the realm of pain relief, sports recovery, and post-surgery healing. 

As scholars and athletes alike delve deeper into this realm of research through resources like Google, PubMed, and scholarly journals, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of cooling techniques continues to grow. 

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From reducing inflammation and swelling to aiding muscle recovery and promoting overall well-being, cold water therapy has proven to be an invaluable tool for athletes and individuals seeking relief from physical discomfort. Additionally, the rise of compression products, actively designed to help support and optimize the body’s response to cooling, adds a new dimension to this ancient practice. 

As the likes of Wim Hof’s method gain attention, customer reviews and feedback further validate the potential of these techniques in achieving peak performance and holistic health. Whether you opt for simple, free home remedies or invest in advanced cooling machines, the possibilities for harnessing the power of cold water therapy are vast and promising. 

So, Book a session with us at Fast and Fit Bangkok, take the plunge, embrace the icy world of cryotherapy, and unlock the full potential of its healing and transformative effects on the body, mind, and overall well-being.