You might despise cold weather and cold showers, but there are some benefits to exposing your body to cold temperatures in a controlled setting.
Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, is the exposure of your body to cold temperatures for therapeutic purposes.
It can be done in many ways, including cold showers, ice baths, ice packs, swimming in cool water, and cryotherapy chambers.
Cold Therapy for Athletes
Exposing your body to cold temperatures after exercise may help reduce inflammation and swelling, which could help to speed up the healing process if an injury has occurred.
In addition, cold therapy is commonly used to help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness – the pain and stiffness you feel in your muscles in the days after a challenging workout. Although many athletes and exercisers report that cold therapy helps to relieve their muscle soreness, more in-depth research suggests it may not be as effective as initially thought.
But even if it’s not a surefire way to get rid of muscle soreness, a cold shower or an ice bath can feel very relieving after a hot and sweaty workout.
Cold Therapy for Improving Health
Despite the common belief that being out in the cold will make you sick, a few experiments have indicated that cold therapy may help improve your immune system.
While chronic stress (which includes prolonged, unrelenting exposure to cold temperatures) can harm your immune system, acute stress (controlled, short-term exposure in safe conditions) may have the opposite effect and improve your body’s ability to fight infection.
Safe exposure to cold temperatures may also help you burn a few extra calories, as your body will have to work a bit harder to keep you warm.
Cold Therapy for Mental Health
Cold showers stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, which can be very helpful for people who need to wake themselves up or get a boost of energy. It might also make you feel alert and focused.
This activation of the sympathetic nervous system also releases endorphins and noradrenaline, leading to an anti-depressive effect.
When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a cold shower may be just what you need to calm down and get focused.
If you’re interested in trying out cold therapy, talk to your doctor about the best way to do it. There are some risks involved with exposure to cold temperatures, so it’s essential to do it in a safe and controlled setting.