The Benefits of Cold Water Therapy

Cold Water Therapy is all the rage — it’s no longer uncommon to spot celebrities, bodybuilders and professional athletes filming themselves dunking their bodies in an ice bath or taking a frigid shower. And it’s no wonder, given the many benefits attributed to it, including stimulating weight loss, improving blood circulation, and boosting the immune system.

For those that are new to the practice, Fullerton says it’s a good idea to start off slow by immersing only your hands or feet first. “This will acclimate your body to the temperature and help you avoid some of the discomfort,” she says. “Then you can gradually increase the amount of time your limbs are submerged.”

The first few seconds in cold water may feel like a shock to the body, and you’ll likely find yourself gasping for air. But it’s important to try and control your breathing to prevent hyperventilation, which can lead to hypothermia.

As you continue to immerse yourself in the cold water, your blood vessels will begin to constrict and then open again, creating a pumping effect that increases blood flow, per this study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. This increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and tissues, which helps reduce inflammation.

It’s also been found to speed up muscle recovery, which can make a big difference for athletes and those recovering from injuries. However, Fullerton cautions those with heart or blood pressure issues to check with their doctor before trying this technique.

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