Fancy showering in cold water? Dunking yourself in the cold sea in winter? Or sitting in an ice bath?
No, until relatively recently, me neither (I still haven't actually done the ice bath - yet!)
However, I think it may have been after listening to another one of Dr Rangan Chatterjee's podcasts where they mentioned the benefits of cold water therapy, I changed my mind and gave it a go.
For anyone who knows me, knows that I am generally a pretty cold person, I layer up my clothes all the time and will avoid going in the sea in the UK (except for the odd day in the summer) because, lets just face it, its COLD. So for me to turn the shower to cold and happily stand under it, it's kinda bizarre but that's what I do now, at the end of every shower.
I also went in the sea on Christmas day for a dunking. It was flippin freezing, but oh-so-invigorating!
So what are the benefits of cold water therapy?
*Resets body temperature control
Hooray, just what someone like me, who always feels cold, needs!
Regular cold showers can reset your body's temperature control, encouraging it to heat itself up, rather than relying on external sources all the time.
* Reduces DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness)
You know that ache you get after a gym session? You know, where walking down the stairs after a leg sesh the day before is really unpleasant? Or sneezing after an abs workout gives a nasty blow? Well cold water can help to reduce this from happening by reducing the inflammation of the muscles. Cold water reduces the temperature of the damaged tissues and constricts the blood vessels which helps mitigate DOMS.
Which is always good for a coldy like me! Your heart is forced to pump more blood around the body when it is immersed in cold water because initially the blood will head straight to the vital organs. Obviously the rest of your body will still require oxygen and nutrients, so the heart steps up it's game and works harder.
*Kick starts the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a clever network of vessels that travel around the body clearing out unwanted bacteria, microbes and waste from your cells. This system can become sluggish though if it is not worked resulting in a build up of those unwanted toxins which can manifest into joint pain, infections, colds and disease. So a dunk in cold water forces the vessels to contract and pump the lymphatic fluids around your body, clearing the area of toxins.
*Builds mental power
Making yourself do something that you don't really want to do takes quite a bit of mental willpower right? So if you are regularly making yourself have a cold shower, or swim outdoors in cold water, or even take ice baths, then you are regularly increasing your mental capacity to overcome things.
*Can help with depression
Yup, that's right, regular cold showers can have an anti-depressant effect! Unbelievable right? In cold water, the body releases more norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone that gives a natural kinda high as well as beta-endorphins which are feel good molecules. Find out more here.
I don't recommend going straight for the ice bath or even prolonged periods submerged in cold water though; start small and be consistent.
At the end of every shower, just as I do, turn the water to cold and stay under it for as long as possible. Initially it takes your breath away, so concentrate on taking deep controlled breaths and try to relax your body too (it has a tendency to want to tense up) I find the best way to do it is put just my head under it first, then gradually move until my whole body is under - start small remember.
So there you have it.
I really recommend giving it a go. The feeling afterwards is just amazing. It is an incredible way to start the day. Please do give it a go and let me know how you get on!