The benefits of cold water immersion have been known for eons. But it wasn’t until the recent popularity of “The Iceman” Wim Hof that chilling out in freezing cold water has become en vogue. I recently gave his cold shower therapy a try.
It’s simple: At the end of your usual hot shower, finish with 30 seconds of the coldest water you can handle.
The Breathing Trick
The trick here is to maintain a normal breathing pattern despite the rapid drop in water temperature. I made a point to slow my exhale phase so it was twice as long as the inhale. This offsets the sympathetic nervous system response. I maintained a two-second inhale followed by a four-second exhale sequence during the 30 seconds of cold water. This isn’t easy at first!
My progression consisted of increasing the cold water time by 10 seconds every third or fourth day until I reached one minute. Feel free to go beyond that, if it suits you.
I’ve always been intolerant to cold temperatures, and my feet were usually cooler than they should’ve been. Since I started ending my showers with cold water therapy, I’ve experienced three benefits:
- Better tolerance to cold temperatures
- Improved circulation (indicated by warmer feet throughout the day)
- Deeper sleep and faster recovery from workouts
Give cold water therapy a try. It’ll probably increase your health and recovery, and it’s much cheaper than those expensive cryo chambers.