The Healing Power Of Cold Showers
When I was a girl, it was well known that cold showers or cold baths are good for you. I never truly remembered why or how... but I remember my parents were encouraged by GPs to teach kids and make it a habit to toughen up the body. By now I had totally forgotten about this...my parents didn't truly make it a habit and neither did I. So as most of us I relied on vitamins to keep the body healthy and did not really care about it, to be frank.
Things do change as we grow and get older, our metabolism slows down and we get more vulnerable and comfortable so the idea of taking cold showers is not something any of us would consider doing any time soon. Warm showers ohhh yeesss pleaaaseee, a neverending pleasure and comfort of the warmth, goes deep into our soul and makes us feel all nice and comfy. o we live a comfy life and with the technological boost have tremendous possibilities not to make any extra effort. Ordering food in or delivering everything to your doorstep for example. Being at home without any social interaction...except for social media and TV. Going for walks is only happening if food, movies or drinks are involved. We get used to this lifestyle...and what it does is scary, our body is getting used to it, it adapts to limited possibilities and so does our mind. This routine creates a barrier between things you would like to do and your ability to do them. Even simple, easy things seem to be distant. So what to do? How to change this, especially stop looking for any possible excuse just to avoid doing stuff and simply just get out there for the sake of being out there in the great outdoors?
I was doing my daily research about random stuff and came across this incredible video about an American athlete who went to Japan to find his inner boost. He visited various temples, where they practise Shugendo (promise there will be a different article about that as well). The priest takes the trainee in the mountains, where they practise different rituals in order to be reborn from the inside. One of these is standing under the water that is coming from the mountains and while they do it the priest cites mantras. The trainees are tired and exhausted in the end because this hike pushes their bodies out of the comfort zone but in the end the feeling of completing this practise the trainees learn something and what they learn is very personal.
These hikes are led by an experienced priest in this specific video it was a 60 plus year old man, who was keeping an extremely steady pace while the younger trainee athlete was in fact catching his breath as he was trying to keep up with him. And then it struck me. Cold showers, I know its good for you!
Hydrotherapy was widely used to improve immunity and for the management of pain, CHF, MI, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma, PD, AS, RA, OAK, FMS, anorectal disorders, fatigue, anxiety, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hyperthermia, labor, etc. It produces different effects on various systems of the body depending on the temperature of water and though these effects are scientifically evidence based.
Benefits of Cold Showers:
Skincare: Hot water can strip away the natural oils of your skin and dry it out, while cold water helps to constrict blood vessels to temporarily tighten pores and reduce redness.
Hair: finishing off your shower with a cold rinse will help lock in moisture, while tightening to cuticles in your scalp to anchor your hair, reducing hair loss.
Alertness: Cold showers are a great antidote for waking you up in the morning after a late night. Anything that surprises or shocks you will bring on the fight or flight response and raise your level of alertness. Similarly, taking a cold shower raises your adrenaline and increases alertness.
Mental Health: The effect on your physiology from a cold shower in the morning includes initial vasoconstriction then increased blood flow to organs and the skin as well, reflex deep breathing and increased oxygen intake, faster heart rate, adrenaline release, all of which may give you a boost in energy and metabolism, and a perceived mental lift.
But how should we do it? Should we just turn the shower on and quickly jump under it and for how long should we do it and how cold the water has to be?
The best time to do the cold shower treatment is in the morning times, preferably after workout or exercise.
Rinse off with warm water.
Start from 32 - 30 C for 1 minute and slowly make the water cooler until 15 C for 2 - 3 minutes. And if the organism is handling it positively you can then start with the contrast of temperatures from 35 - 40 C to 20 - 13 C in the duration of 3 minutes. What is happening with our body during the cold water showers: Blood Vessels initially tighten up, our skin gets paler and the blood starts flowing to our inner organs, our nervous system and cardiovascular system is being activated, metabolism rises which results the blood flow from the organs to the skin, basically the water is training the entire body by toning and strengthening the blood vessels.
First rinse off your right leg with cold water, starting on the outer side of your ankle. That is the spot farthest away from your heart. Work your way up gradually. Then rinse off your left leg.
Now it's time for your arms: start on the back of your right hand up to your shoulder. Then start at your armpit down the inside of your arm to your palm. Do the same on your left arm.
Rinse the rest of your body with cold water. Repeat the above steps with warm water, then rinse your whole body with cold water one more time.
This routine must be practiced at all times of the year regardless of season weather change.
This is something anybody can do at home. :)
But what is happening to the body when people start swimming, jumping in ice cold springs and fresh water but especially water under ice?
The toughest form of hydrotherapy which is accessible ONLY for experienced ice-cold water swimmers. This is considered one of the oldest medical treatments of healing various diseases. In the Old days people were taugher in body and mind, because practising this form of self healing was widely practised among the old and young and nobody was as shocked as those who hear about it these days.
From Medical point of you the history of this ritual as medical treatment has a young history as it was not recognized scientifically until the late 1800'.
So what is happening from a physiological point of view to our precious bodies if we decide to undergo such extreme form of water-therapy, swimming in ice-cold water?
As soon as we place or body under the ice cold water - it triggers a short term stress, resulting in so called "dance of the vessels" and redistribution of the blood. Firstly the vessels lying on the surface constricting and "give up" their blood in order to "save" the inner organs. Then the organs return this blood back to the vessels and they expand again. A huge amount of hormones are released into the blood: adrenaline and endorphins. The entire organism is stimulated, every organ starts working more intensively and correctly. Also helps to release pain in the shoulders, joints, helps to eliminate insomnia and improves central and peripheral circulation and increases cold resistance.
From the emotional point of view one feels light and happy. Many people say from starting to swim in ice-cold water changed their lives.
So Good Luck everyone :D!!!