COLD IMMERSION & WIM HOF
Written By: Georgia Smith-Ball
Will Kane having Cryotherapy at state-of-the-art facility – HUM2N
The Wim Hof method and Cold Immersion Therapy
the recent health and fitness phenomena.
The Wim Hof method is essentially a way to gain complete control over your body and mind. Patience and dedication, enforced by focus and determination are paramount to mastering the art of this method. Through the combination of breathing, cold therapy and commitment, the Wim Hof method explains how oxygen levels are heightened which result in more energy, reduced stress levels and boosts your immune response. Health benefits that arise from proper cold exposure are said to include; reduced inflammation, balanced hormone levels, improve quality of sleep, endorphin production.
The breathing techniques used during this method acts as a short stress response, whilst the cold therapy builds mental toughness and resilience by taking us out of our ‘comfort zone’ in which modern day society has artificially imposed.
Examples include; ice baths, cryotherapy, plunge pools and cold water therapy, whereby the body is immersed immediately after training in attempt to enhance the recovery process.
How does it work?
According to Wim Hof and scientific studies, the temperature of the water lowers the damage of the affected tissue and reduces any further inflammation / swelling. Blood vessels restrict and dilate, increased blood flow circulates the body carrying oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells.
CWI is also increases the metabolic rate.
Not only are there supposed physical benefits from cold water immersion but also mental benefits too. The exposure to different stimuli and stresses challenge the body and mind and help you prepare for strenuous conditions.
- Reduced muscle soreness; cold water causes blood vessels to constrict subsequently reducing blood flow which in turn reduces swelling and inflammation. This in turn improves athletic sports performance.
- Boost your immunity; improves your body’s ability to fight infections and illnesses. The cold water therapy stimulates the body to produce more anti-inflammatory chemicals to fight off infection.
– Mental health benefits have also been reported as cold water therapy is said to help boost your mood as it increases the endorphin levels within the body and can hep reduce anxiety and depression.
Cold water immersion therapy studies have shown improvements in recovery amongst athletes however further research is required. This new phenomena has become popular amongst both endurance and resistance training athletes who have reaped the benefits from reduced recovery time and reduction of DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness).
However if you’re trying to build muscle, research suggests that cold water therapy can impair muscle hypertrophy.
A way to implement the Wim Hof method into your everyday life is to start with regular cold water showers; initially with uncomfortable but bearable temperatures and over short time domains until the body becomes more use to it. Gradually over time reducing the temperature and increasing the time period your body is exposed will build up your resilience.
It’s important to consult a medical expert if you intend to start implementing cold water immersion into your lifestyle. Discuss the risks and ascertain how safe it is for you to undertake.
Please note research is limited and direct links to health benefits should not be relied upon.
Alternatives to cold water immersion for health benefits include soft tissue massages to help improve recovery for sporting athletes, as well as salt baths which have been known to relax both the body and mind, and similar to cold water therapy dilates blood vessels. Foam rolling can also be a method of recovery as it can help relax tense muscles and can temporarily improve the body’s range of motion.