By WIN Provider: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor (Licensed)
Cold water therapy has been gaining much attention thanks to Wim Hoff, also known as The Iceman. Wim has brought cold water therapy, deep breathing and other whole body therapeutics into this modern day. People caught wind of what he was doing and through social media and Youtube, we’ve all be able to watch and learn more about cold water therapy and its benefits.
Cold water therapy is not something new to me. As a student, I first learned about cold water therapy in my program for Naturopathic Medicine back in 2000. However, cold water therapy is a branch of something bigger, called hydrotherapy, that dates back to the time of Hippocrates.
Hippocrates lived from in 400BC!! Back then, when people got sick, they didn’t have the medicine, vitamins or supplements we have today to help them. The doctors of the time made use of what they had. They used alternating temperatures of water baths — hot, warm, cold — to help stimulate the immune system and other vital systems to balance. They often paired this with healing herbs.
Fast forward to the 1800s, when one of the pioneers of naturopathic medicine, Sebastian Kneipp, advanced the use of hydrotherapy and created therapeutic protocols that are still used today by many practitioners around the world.
When we think cold water therapy, polar dips or ice baths may come to mind, but it can also include ending a shower on cold or alternating hot and cold water dampened compresses.
WHAT IS COLD WATER THERAPY
Cold water therapy involves using cold water to support health. Usually beginning with warming the body with a hot application, like a hot compress, hot shower or sauna, following it with a cold water application helps to create a strong circulatory effect that brings about health benefits.
BENEFITS OF COLD WATER THERAPY
There are many known health benefits that have also been demonstrated in research. Benefits include:
- Immune system fortification
- Improved mood
- Increased energy
- Decreased inflammation
- Decreased joint and muscle soreness
HOW TO PRACTICE COLD WATER THERAPY AT HOME
An easy way to start including cold water therapy in your day is to end your hot shower on cold. Here’s how to do this:
- Spend at least 2-3 minutes in a warm shower and make the water temperature such that you feel your body is thoroughly warmed. The warmer / hotter the better, but not too hot that it could irritate or burn your skin.
- Take a few deep breaths before turning the water to cold. You want to remain calm and focused during the cold water application.
- Decide if you want to start on the front or back of your body. Everyone is different and you may have a preference. Either side is ok.
- Turn the water to cold and take just one deep breath through the nose and turn off the water.
- You can continue to practice this, gradually adding deep breaths and more time in the cold water… 2 deep breaths in and out for a little while… then move on to 3 deep breaths… and so on… try working up to 10 deep breaths on one side.
Progress by including the other side and again working up to 10 deep breaths.
There are many ways we can use cold water applications to promote health. It’s one of the simplest home therapeutics we all have access to. To learn more about cold water therapy, or other hydrotherapy techniques, book a Naturopathic visit with me at WIN Health in Niagara Falls or Fonthill and I’d be happy to help.