You are probably familiar with how a warm bath or shower can make you feel good. There is nothing nicer than feeling the clean warm water run over your body. However, did you know that you can also dip into ice-cold water and enjoy many health benefits?
It might sound strange to you, but cold therapy is a biohacking technique that has been found to have several physiological and even psychological benefits.
The method involves using extreme cold to cool the whole body briefly. It causes severe vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels. Then, the body receives an endorphin rush, along with nutrients and minerals, as the blood flows back to the tissues while the body returns to normal temperature.
With its many benefits, cold therapy is also believed to increase longevity, and that’s a huge benefit for sure.
Different Types of Cold Therapy
You can use cold therapy in different ways. Remember to practice caution. If you have underlying health conditions, it would be wise to talk to your health professional first. Some conditions may be affected by sudden changes in temperature, so they could do you more harm than good.
Here are some cold therapy biohacking techniques you may want to try:
An ice bath requires submerging into the water with ice for 10 to 15 minutes. The temperature ranges from 50°F and 60°F (10°C and 15°C). This can relieve sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and regulate your breathing. It can also help boost your mood and make you feel energized.
The cold shower requires 5 to 7 minutes of exposure to water with a temperature of between 50°F and 60°F (10°C and 15°C). It is typically used to relieve fatigue, sore muscles, and pain. A cold shower can also lower your stress levels.
Ice massages are usually done to treat acute injuries, like sprains or arthritis pain. It can reduce pain, improve blood flow, and mobilize soft tissue. Ice massages can be done at least once daily or as often as it is comfortable. However, do not apply it for longer than 10 minutes, or you may feel like you have developed frostbite.
Cold Whirlpool Bath
A cold whirlpool bath is used to decrease blood circulation to the injured part to restore homeostasis. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation. This treatment usually requires 15 to 20 minutes of exposure to cold temperatures between 50°F and 60°F (10°C and 15°C).
Whole Body Cryotherapy
Whole-body cryotherapy involves submerging your body in super low-temperature vapors for up to three minutes. The temperature vapors range from minus 170°F to minus 270°F (minus 110°C to minus 170°C). This treatment is used to reduce pain and inflammation. If done long-term, it may also help lose body fat.
Health Benefits of Cold Therapy
What can cold therapy do for you? As we said there are many health benefits. Here are a few:
Cold therapy can help you burn fat. That is because when your body is exposed to cold regularly, it increases your brown fat tissue (BAT) activity, burning calories to fuel the body. Cold therapy can also increase your metabolism.
Reduces Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in the body which damage the cells. Cold therapy can help the body fight oxidative stress by teaching it to be more efficient through exposure to controlled stressful situations, such as cold temperatures.
Cold therapy can help speed up recovery from injury or soreness after exercising. The cold temperature reduces the circulation in the affected area to minimize swelling and inflammation and speed up repair. This is why many sports people use ice packs after working out or competing.
If you are suffering from migraine, cold therapy can be used to help manage your symptoms. One strategy is to put ice packs on your neck, which cools the blood passing through the carotid arteries there and reduces migraine pain. Many people place it on their forehead, which may feel good at the time, but it actually works much better if placed on the neck.
You may experience pinched nerves, chronic pain, or acute injuries. Cold therapy can help reduce pain by numbing irritated nerves. There can be a significant reduction in pain if the cold treatment is used for about 90 minutes.
Many athletes use cold therapy for reducing pain. It can also be used to manage arthritis pain and improve physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Improve Sleep and Mood
Sleep and mood go hand in hand. Cold therapy can help improve sleep and mood by reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms. Super-cold temperatures can cause hormonal responses such as increased levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins.
Treat Low-Risk Tumors
Localized cryotherapy is now being used to treat some cancers, such as skin, kidney, liver, and lung cancers. Doctors use cryotherapy to freeze cancer cells and hopefully reduce or kill them.
Cold therapy is an interesting biohacking technique that is becoming more popular all the time. You may have even heard of different people that use this technique, such as the amazing Wim Hof Method. Remember to always check with your doctor before you try this biohacking technique, especially if you have existing health concerns.