Whenever I tell a patient what I do in the shower daily, they shoot a disturbed look my way and cringe: “How could you do that?” they ask, followed by: “I couldn’t imagine willingly putting myself through that torture every single day!”
You might be wondering what I am talking about. You may be surprised by the answer: Cold Water Immersion, a form of Hydrotherapy that dates back to ancient times.
In its simplest form, ending your shower with 30-60 seconds of a cold water spray stimulates immunity, energizes and revitalizes the body and mind, improves: circulation and detoxification, skin and hair vibrancy and overall wellbeing.
On days that I have a little more time, I alternate hot and cold sprays in the shower using 3 minutes of hot water, followed by 1 minute of cold water and I repeat that for a total of 3 cycles.
Cold water immersion is now all the rage, with top-levels athletes, executives and even Tony Robbins on board.
Is there proof that it works? Yes. I swear by it for myself and my patients to ward off colds and the flu and to jump-start each day.
Immunity and the Common Cold
According to the Natural Standards Database, preliminary clinical evidence shows that taking alternating hot and cold showers, at least five times per week, decreased the frequency of the common cold. It works by increasing not only the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid, but also by increasing the number of white blood cells to fight off infection.
By increasing the flow of lymphatic fluid and white blood cells, alternating hot and cold showers support detoxification, reduce joint pain and boost immune function.
Muscle soreness and inflammation
Cold water soothes sore and achy muscles post-workout. It reduces inflammation and can decrease the need to take pain-killers.
Happiness Levels, Energy and Mental Alertness
Those that took cold showers for at least 2-3 minutes daily for several weeks reported an improvement in mood and a reduction in pain. Cold water activates cold receptors in the skin, which in turn activates our sympathetic nervous system, increasing the release of our natural endorphins and brain-boosting neurotransmitters.
Try it – you just may be surprised at how invigorating it is. And, for the morning-afters when you polished off most of the wine, it can be a life-saver.
Note: Those with heart conditions, diabetic neuropathy, nerve or sensation loss or other serious medical conditions should always consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner before starting cold water therapy.