The idea of ‘cold water immersion’ has become popular in recent years, especially among elite sports people competing at the very highest levels.
The idea is that you sit up to your chest in cold water for between 10 – 15 minutes. Those who have done it say that it is an unpleasant experience the first few times, however it is possible to build up a tolerance so that it actually becomes almost pleasant.
Sitting in cold water causes your blood vessels to constrict, whereas when you get out, they open back up. This is a great process to go through after working out as it helps the body to get rid of metabolic waste.
This changing of the way blood and fluid runs through your body can help reduce inflammation, improve your body’s recovery and general prepare you for greater resilience in the future.
One of the benefits is also said to be on the central nervous system, increasing relaxation, encouraging better sleep and generally helping you to feel better and less susceptible to illness.
Even if cold baths don’t help directly with physical ailments, they can evoke a feeling of elation and relaxation which can have a positive psychological impact. Just feeling good about jumping in and out of a cold bath can be enough to have a knock-on effect on the rest of your body.
When you’re dealing with bath water that is around 10 and 15 °C, you do need to take necessary precautions.
Water at that low a temperature has it’s benefits up unto a point. If you stay in water of that temperature for too long then you can run the risk of hypothermia, which can have fatal consequences. You’re likely to feel the need to get out well before this but setting a timer for 10 – 15 minutes is recommended.
Additionally, some people with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure should consult with a doctor before embarking on a cold bath programme.