How to start cold therapy
Sep 12, 2022
Cold therapy is totally hot and happening this year. You can hardly open your social media or see someone swimming outside or sitting in an ice bath. All forms of cold therapy, also known as hydrotherapy. Something you can easily start yourself. Just at home. We'd like to tell you how you can start with cold therapy.
What is cold therapy?
Before you start cold therapy, it is, of course, useful to know exactly what cold therapy entails. With cold therapy you literally step into the cold. Please note that cold therapy is actually always done with water. Cryotherapy is slightly different. Basically, cold water therapy is when your body creates the temperature to fight the cold on its own. When you step under a cold shower, for example, your blood flows to the surface of the skin. Your capillaries open as a result. When the blood flows back to your organs, they receive a kind of flush which immediately changes the glandular secretion.
When the blood vessels and capillaries are fully opened, the body does not feel cold under the water, but warms up using its own circulatory capacity. This exercise helps to strengthen the nervous system. This can improve your meditation practice and help you concentrate better, in order to live optimally. So, daily conscious practice of cold therapy helps you have a healthy and vital body with an optimally functioning nervous system. And don't forget the mental benefits.
Different ways of cold therapy
As you can read in the previous paragraphs, we talked about cold showering as cold therapy. But did you know that there are more ways to enjoy the benefits of cold? They all have a slightly different approach, but they have the same benefits and effects on your health. The different ways of cold therapy are:
- Cold shower
- Swimming in a cold lake
- Stepping into an ice bath
How can I start cold therapy?
Because the different methods of cold therapy are similar in approach, you basically start with all of them the same way. Actually, the best way to start cold therapy is to step under a cold shower. This is a very accessible way and can be done at home during your morning routine, for example. And with cold showers you prepare yourself to take an ice bath or swim in a cold lake.
Wim Hof describes a protocol with exposure to cold for beginners in his book the Wim Hof Method (2020). He also advises people to step under a cold shower. According to Hof, it is important to build up gradually and to practise at least five days a week. It is important to follow your feelings during cold therapy and not to force anything. Seconds feel 30too long? Start cold therapy with seconds 15and build it up slowly.
Wim Hof's cold shower schedule
- Week 1: 30 seconds of cold water at the end of a hot shower
- Week 2: 1 minute of cold water at the end of a hot shower
- Week 3: 1,5 minutes of cold water at the end of a hot shower
- Week 4: 2 minutes of cold water at the end of a hot shower
(source: The Wim Hof Method)
The next step in starting cold therapy
If you want to take cold therapy a step further, you can choose to jump into an ice bath or swim outdoors in winter. If you are already a cold shower die-hard, this will certainly be easier for you too. (I speak from experience ;)).
Earlier, I wrote a blog about starting cold water swimming. You can read that blog here. Actually, the same things that you need to bear in mind when starting cold therapy in an ice bath and swimming are pretty much the same.
- Listen to your own body
- Start with a cold shower or bucket of water to get used to the cold
- Make sure you go with someone
- Choose a safe place to swim
- Do not become overconfident. In other words, don't stay in the cold water too long. - Prepare well
- Make sure your head does not get too cold.
- When you step into an ice bath, turn the temperature down a little at a time
When will you start cold therapy?
As you can see, it is not difficult at all to start cold therapy. It is very easy. Everyone has a shower inside or a hose in the garden they can step under.
According to Wim Hof, the first health benefits even start with degrees15. So it does not necessarily have to be very cold in the beginning. You can slowly lower the temperature when you notice that you are becoming comfortable with the temperature.