Would you be willing to sacrifice the comfort of your usual hot shower for some serious wellness benefits? In recent years, ice baths and cold showers have been a trending topic in the health and beauty space, with more and more influencers and experts advocating for taking the plunge. What’s the point, you ask? If willingly subjecting yourself to a freezing cold dip sounds downright excruciating, well… you’re not wrong. However, as it turns out, there is a rhyme and a reason, (and a scientific case to be made) for doing so. Here’s what you need to know:
The Science Behind Cold Therapy: Benefits for Every Body For quite some time, ice baths and cold therapy have been common practice for athletes as a way to boost rehabilitation and reduce muscle soreness. According to experts this is because cold exposure aids the body’s recovery in several capacities, including increasing circulation, reducing pain and inflammation, boosting metabolism, and improving your adaptability to even the most extreme conditions. Beyond that, further studies have found that cold therapy has additional benefits for even the least athletic among us. For example, a cold shower can help tighten and restrict blood flow to the skin, hair, and nails, meaning you get a little beauty boost to boot. Even better news? Cold therapy can also help with nervous system regulation, increasing mood-boosting endorphins, while also reducing stress, fatigue, and anxiety.
DIY: How To Try This At Home
● Tip #1: Start with just a few seconds - For getting started with ice baths or cold showers, experts recommend easing your way in gradually. Even just 10-30 seconds to begin with and working your way up can be a great way to acclimate. You can also try exposing just one part of your body at a time to the cold in order to help with the mental adjustment to this new experience.
● Tip #2: Temper your level of cold - Technically speaking, you don’t have to go completely cold to reap some of the benefits of a cold shower. Anything below 21 C should be sufficient in the beginning–or as a daily practice–and won’t leave you with goosebumps. You can also always start cool and get colder as you go along.
● Tip #3: Consider alternating hot and cold - Another amazing benefit to cold therapy is that when paired with hot water, it helps stimulate your lymphatic system. This is great for the skin and overall immunity. To try this trick, you can go back and forth between temps, or start with one and finish with the other.
● Tip #4: Don’t stay in TOO long - Of course, we probably don’t have to tell you that cold exposure can have some adverse effects if carried on for too long. An ice bath should ideally last no longer than 10-15 minutes and you should always listen to your body, removing yourself if the cold becomes too much to bear.
Adventures in Self Care: One writer’s experience with cold showering As a beauty journalist, I’ll try just about anything once. Especially if glow-skin is a purported benefit. So naturally, while researching this article I had to give cold therapy a go for myself. I decided to ease my way in with a quick cold shower, rather than the more ambitious ice bath experience, and I have to say that was the wise choice for a beginner. I set a goal to stay cool for two whole minutes and turned the tap to a full cold blast. Following the above advice to expose one limb at a time, my first thought was that it wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t until I submerged myself completely that I began to whimper quietly, stare longingly at the hot water dial, and count down the seconds until switching to warm water. Did I notice a huge difference? It’s hard to say. Because this is a practice with cumulative benefits, I’ll probably have to work up the nerve to keep trying. However, I will say that after surviving the arctic blast of cold water, my regular shower has never felt so luxurious. Post-shower, my skin also did look pretty naturally radiant. Maybe it was the cold therapy doing its thing or maybe it was just the triumph of surviving. Either way, I’ll take it. References: What are the benefits of cold and hot showers? By Jessica Caporuscio, Pharm.D. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327461#cold-showers Ice Bath Benefits: What the Research Says By Sara Lindberg, medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/ice-bath-benefits