Though the custom of purification by total immersion in icy mid-winter water is pre-Christian, cold water immersion (CWI) is now emerging as a part of sports recovery training. There are both pros and cons to cold water immersion.
There’s an abundance of research on CWI, however, there are not many studies available to fully elucidate the primary mechanisms for its ability to improve recovery, since the procedure is relatively new. Here we have attempted to answer a few questions that people have related to CWI.
- Scientists at the University of Florida recently conducted a study demonstrating an increase in caloric burn when immersed in colder water. In their research the team identified that during a 45 minute in-water workout, those who exercised in 20 degree water burned noticeably more calories than those who worked out in 32 degree water.
- Burns Incl Therm Inj. 1985 Feb;11(3):161-5. The effect of different cooling temperatures and immersion fluids on post-burn oedema and survival of the partially scalded hairy mouse ear. Blomgren I, Eriksson E, Bagge U.
- In addition to stimulating metabolism and burning white fat, there are many cold thermogenesis health benefits. Both short-term and long-term benefits abound. Cold thermogenesis benefits often become evident immediately after intentional cold exposure, and people tend to feel happier and more energized after immersion in cold water.
- Improves lymphatic circulation
- Improves cardiovascular circulation
- Reduces muscle inflammation
- Boosts happiness levels
- Aids weight loss efforts
Increases Immunity Defenses
As per a 1993 study by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England – those who regularly take cold showers, experience an increase in white blood cells which are responsible for fighting off viruses.
Increases Blood Circulation
Cold water improves our circulation by encouraging blood to move to our organs to keep them warm, and thereby it improves the efficiency of our arteries.
Improves Skin and Hair Health
Ice cold water tightens your skins cuticles and pores and also seals the pores in your scalp. Washing your face with cold water helps prevent the loss of healthy natural oils. It also tightens the pores in your skin, preventing them from getting clogged. Cold water makes your hair appear shinier, stronger, and healthier by flattening hair follicles.
Increases Stress Tolerance
A study conducted in 1994 found that exposure to the cold reduces uric acid and increases glutathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels – resulting in an increased tolerance to stress.
Helps Burn Fat
Research has shown that cold water therapy helps boost your fat-burning abilities. Brown fat is a heat-generating type of fat that burns energy instead of storing it, acting more like muscle than fat.
Cold water helps accelerate the heart beat due to which your breathing becomes deeper. Deeper breaths oxygenate the brain while the increased heart rate releases a rush of blood and adrenaline throughout the body.
As per a research by the Department of Radiation Oncology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine – short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline, which is a chemical that could help mitigate depression.
In a study, the Thrombosis Research Institute also found that cold water showers increase the amount of testosterone produced in men.
If you’ve spent most of your life taking hot showers, suddenly turning to cold showers can be a big shock to the system. If you want to change your regimen, gradually decrease the temp of the water so your body can adjust.
Cool water for immersion or compressing of burn injuries is instantly available in all homes, factories and schools. Treatment requires no skilled personnel and can be begun immediately when it is. The increased central metabolism enhances the production of waste products and erodes energy stores, both of which are considered negative and unwanted effects after exercise and when attempting to enhance recovery time (9) As a result, it is suggested that perhaps immersion in cool-to-thermoneutral water temperatures. may be the best option for recovery, unless muscles strain or sprains have occurred, in which case immersion into colder temperatures may be more beneficial (9).
- Start with a hot shower.
- When you’re ready to rinse, just turn it down to cold.
- Start with short durations of cold water – starting with 50 seconds and moving up to 1 or 2 minutes. As your body gets acclimatized, gradually increase the duration of cold water.
Always listen to your body and work up to the advanced cold water therapies gradually.
- For cold water immersion the temperature must be between 8-15°C (45-60°F).
- Usually, the average temperature is about 11°C (50°F).
- Below 59°F is where you start to activate brown adipose fat.
Cryotherapy comes from the Greek word cryo (κρυο), which means cold. Cryotherapy involves a variety of treatments when freezing temperatures are used therapeutically. In this process, a substantial part of a human body is immersed in a bath of ice or ice-water for a limited period.
Do you have any questions about the practice of cold water immersion?
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How To Turn Hot Water On Immersion
Hot water on the skin can cause a first- or second-degree burn. A first-degree burn causes only redness and heals in a few days. A second-degree burn is deeper. It causes a blister to form. The blister may break and leak clear fluid. It may become infected. Second-degree burns take 1 to 2 weeks to heal.
These guidelines will help you care for your burn at home:
Immediately place your burn under cool water to decrease pain. Don't apply ice directly to the burn as freezing can worsen the burn.
On the first day, put a small towel soaked in cool water on the area to ease severe pain.
If no blister formed, you may use moisturizers that contain aloe vera.
If a blister formed and broke and a bandage was applied, change it once a day, or as directed. If the bandage sticks, remove it by soaking it in warm water. Wash the burned area daily with soap and water. Pat dry with a clean towel. For the next 3 to 5 days, put an antibiotic cream or ointment on the area after washing. This will help to prevent an infection and to keep the bandage from sticking.
If a blister formed, it will go down by itself. Or it will break on its own in the next few days. If the blister breaks, a clear fluid will leak from it for a day or two. The loose skin from the broken blister has no feeling. You can carefully trim away this skin with clean, small, sharp scissors. Sterilize the scissors by soaking them in alcohol first. Or wash with soap and water. Wash the raw surface under the blister daily with soap and water. For the next 3 to 5 days, put an antibiotic cream or ointment on the area after washing. This will help prevent an infection and keep the bandage from sticking.
You may use over-the-counter medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Also talk with your provider if you've had a stomach ulcer or GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding. Don't give ibuprofen to children younger than 6 months old.
Don't pick or scratch at the affected areas. Use over-the-counter medicine for itching.
Wear a hat, sunscreen, and long sleeves while in the sun.
Don't wear tight-fitting clothes.
Add more calories and protein to your diet until the wound has healed. Drink plenty of water.
Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Most hot water burns heal without becoming infected. Sometimes an infection happens even with correct treatment. You should watch for the signs of infection listed below.
When to seek medical advice
Cold Water Immersion
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Burn Immersion In Cool Water
Pain that gets worse
Redness or swelling that gets worse
Pus coming from the wound
Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
The wound doesn't seem to be healing
Nausea or vomiting