5 Tips To Starting Cold Water Therapy
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"Why would anyone willingly subject themselves to an ice bath?” - is a very valid question! Putting ourselves into a state of discomfort is something we rarely encounter nowadays. But trust me when I say that the benefits of cold water therapy are worth the initial shock; from enhanced circulation to increased mental resilience, cold water therapy offers a plethora of benefits that will leave you feeling revitalised and alive.
Cold water therapy is a journey that will awaken your senses, recharge your body, and challenge your comfort zone. Today, we're diving headfirst into the world of ice baths and cold water therapy, a practice that has been embraced by many as a way to boost both physical and mental well-being.
“But how do I start? Is it safe?” - may be your next logical line of questioning - but not to fear! In this blog, we'll be sharing five invaluable tips to help you embark on your cold water therapy journey with confidence. Whether you're a curious beginner or a seasoned cold-water enthusiast looking to expand your horizons, these tips will guide you through the process and ensure a safe and rewarding experience.
So, grab your towel, control your breathing, and let's dive right into the world of cold water therapy! Get ready to embrace the chill and discover a whole new level of rejuvenation that awaits you beneath the surface. Are you ready? Let's go!
1. Consult a healthcare professional
Before you even think about the words “cold water therapy”, consider safety precautions first! Whilst ice baths are completely sound when used safely and responsibly, it is important that we consider our personal safety before trying anything new for the first time.
Cold water immersion significantly lowers your body's core temperature. When combined with other health issues, submerging oneself in cold water can cause blood vessel constriction and delay blood flow throughout the body - this raises blood pressure, and subsequently can increase the risk of cardiac arrest or stroke. Lumi Therapy recommends that those who are: under 18 years of age, pregnant, have history of heart disease or high blood pressure, have diabetes, complications such as neuropathy or retinal damage, wear a pacemaker, have a history of frostbite, have an open wound, had recent surgery, or epilepsy do NOT use ice-baths.
It's always a good idea to consult with a relevant health professional before beginning a cold water therapy journey; whether this is a physical therapist, chiropractor, or your regular GP, they can provide specific advice and then assist you in creating a routine that suits your specific needs and goals. Whether you do or don’t have a pre-existing health condition, checking with a doctor can never do any harm!
2. Acclimate yourself gradually
If you're new to cold water therapy, it's best and safest to start by acclimating yourself into the cold temperatures - it's essential to understand the importance of acclimating your body to the chilly temperatures, as just like any new endeavour, taking a gradual approach is key to ensuring a safe and effective experience.
By gradually exposing your body to colder water temperatures, you allow it to adapt and build resilience, both physically and mentally. This process, known as cold water acclimatisation, helps prepare your body for the shock of the cold water, minimising the potential for discomfort, shock, or even hypothermia. This gradual exposure will begin to train your body against the cold temperatures, meaning that your first ice bath will be a lot less difficult, as well as preventing the chances of potentially dangerous cold water shock.
Moreover, acclimating to cold water can provide mental benefits as well. It challenges your mind to remain calm and composed in the face of discomfort, allowing you to develop mental resilience and a greater sense of control. Each time you expose yourself to colder water, you become more prepared at managing the initial shock, fostering a stronger mind-body connection.
There are cheap, accessible and easy ways to ease yourself into ice baths without taking the plunge straight away; you can begin by taking cold showers and lowering the temperature day by day, or by swimming in an outdoor pool or lido.
3. Use contrast water therapy
One way of acclimating yourself to cold water, and easing yourself into ice baths is via contrast water therapy. Contrast water therapy involves alternating between cold and warm water. This dynamic technique, often used in cold water therapy, involves alternating between cold and warm water to stimulate and invigorate your system. Start with warm water and gradually decrease the temperature to cold water during your shower, switching between the two as often as you see fit.
By toggling between these contrasting temperatures, you can help improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness.
This pumping action within your circulatory system, known as "vascular gymnastics.", encourages the removal of waste products, toxins, and lactic acid from your muscles, while also delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients to promote healing and recovery. The result? Reduced muscle soreness, improved athletic performance, and an overall sense of rejuvenation.
4. Listen to your body
One of the most important bits of advice we can ever give or receive is to pay attention to our bodies, and this is certainly true of cold water exposure and ice baths. If you’re looking to explore cold water therapy, and have taken the time to follow all of the previous tips, then the chances are that you’re already someone who is in tune with what their body needs, as well as its limitations. It may seem obvious, but listening to your body is a crucial aspect of any wellness practice, and cold water therapy is no exception. When it comes to immersing yourself in chilly temperatures, it's essential to pay close attention to the signals your body sends.
Pay attention to how your body responds to cold water therapy -if you experience any discomfort, pain, or adverse reactions, it's important to stop and seek medical advice where necessary. Listening to your body during cold water therapy can prevent overexertion and potential injury - it's also crucial to be aware of signs of hypothermia, such as uncontrollable shivering, confusion, or numbness, and take immediate action if any arise. Your body knows best, so trust its signals and make choices that align with your comfort and well-being.
Remember, the goal of cold water therapy is to challenge and strengthen your body, not to push it beyond its capabilities - so, embrace the wisdom of your body, listen intently, and embark on your cold water therapy journey with mindfulness and self-care.
5. You’re ready for an ice bath!
Once you’ve done all of the above, and after taking all the necessary precautions and consulting with a healthcare professional, starting ice baths can be an exhilarating and transformative experience.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable plunge into a bath of ice, it's important to follow a few key steps. First, fill your tub or container with cold water to around half, leaving enough space for the addition of ice (and yourself! Add water as necessary). Next, gradually add ice cubes or bags of ice to the water, monitoring the temperature to ensure it remains between 10-15 degrees Celsius - you can make this temperature drop as you become more comfortable with cold plunges! Once full, carefully lower yourself into the bath, allowing your body to adjust to the temperature. Focus on taking slow and controlled breaths, which can help manage any initial shock to your system. Begin with short durations of 1-2 minutes and gradually increase the time as your body becomes accustomed to the cold.
By embracing the challenge of an ice bath, you can tap into your body's resilience, push your limits, and experience a rush of invigoration like no other. For the best experience, a Lumi ice bath is the best option on the market - whether you’re an experienced cold water swimmer or a curious rookie, a Lumi will provide you with all the tools to safely and enjoyably take on a cold water challenge! So, take the leap, embrace the cold, and discover the incredible benefits that ice baths can offer.