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Here’s How You Can Do The Latest Workout Trend Cold Water Therapy At Home

Woman hardening with shower of ice cold water

A new study of Google Trends search data has revealed that searches for ‘cold water therapy’ have soared 713% in the UK in the last week. 

Fitness equipment brand Mirafit analysed Google Trends search data, which found an interest spike in searches for the wellness practice and that the topic is currently trending on TikTok – with over 549 million views and counting. 

In light of the recent surge of interest in the practice, the experts at Mirafit revealed the benefits of introducing cold water therapy into your post-workout cool-down and easy ways of doing it at home. 

What is cold water therapy? 

Cold water therapy, or cryotherapy, is the practice of using cold temperatures to cool tissue and muscles in the body.

This may be through cold showers, immersing your body in cold water or taking an ice bath.  

Alternatively, there is also the more advanced form of cold therapy, whole-body cryotherapy.

This is the process of exposing the body to super-cold vapours in a cold chamber – reportedly loved by many athletes and celebrities such as Usain Bolt, Cristiano Ronaldo, and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. 

According to the experts, “Cold water bathing is understood to date back all the way to Ancient Greece and beyond and has been hailed for centuries around the world for its ‘healing’ benefits.  

“In the modern day, world-renowned athletes often take ice baths after games of sport or competing in international competitions; as a way of soothing their bodies, aiding and speeding up the repair of muscles and ensuring they remain in their peak physical state.” 

What are the benefits of cold water therapy? 

  • Reduce muscle pain and stiffness 

Cold water immersion straight after physical activity can help promote recovery by reducing inflammation and the breakdown of tissue in the body.  

The experts commented, “Immersing in cold water after exercising can help muscles relax by boosting circulation. This can help deter muscle soreness, fatigue, and stiffness, which can often otherwise occur after a strenuous workout.” 

  • May increase metabolism and boost your immune system 

Taking a cold shower or ice bath as part of your post-workout routine can not only affect the way your body feels as part of your recovery but may even be a contributing factor to your health in the longer term. 

The experts continued, “Studies have shown that the use of cryotherapy has the possibility of increasing your metabolic rate as your body works to warm itself back up after experiencing the extreme cold. 

“The practice may also help to boost your immune system, as the increase in circulation which occurs when immersed in cold water can help remove toxins from the body. Research also suggests that it may increase the amount of white blood cells, which helps bolster the body’s defence against infections.” 

  • Boost mood and can combat symptoms of depression and anxiety 

Much like open-water swimming, exposing your body to cold temperatures can have great mood-boosting benefits, which can help alleviate symptoms of mental health struggles.  

According to Mirafit, “The immediate response in the brain when immersing in cold water is to send a surge of endorphins, making you feel more alert and feel good.

The more regularly you practice this form of recovery, your mind may also begin to develop stress-response resilience.  

“This is because your body will get more used to the ‘fight or flight’ response that the practice induces, and your mind will work to calm you quicker – with the potential to decrease your overall cortisol levels over time (the body’s main stress hormone).”   

Is it safe? 

While taking a cold shower, a cold plunge or an ice bath can generally be considered safe; there are some risks involved for those with underlying health conditions. Anyone concerned should consider speaking to a medical professional before undertaking the practice. 

There are also some safety measures that people should implement when undertaking cold water therapy, such as limiting the amount of time exposed to the cold and listening to your body. 

The experts commented, “It is best to experience the cold exposure at home for short bursts of time, as opposed to controlled settings such as cryotherapy clinics or with the supervision of a wellness professional – where experienced practitioners may be able to prolong their exposure.” 

Tips for starting cold water therapy at home 

For beginners, plunging into ice-cold water can be a shock to the system, so it is important to ease into the practice – even slowly introducing it into your post-workout routine at home: 

  1. After your workout, when showering, turn the water temperature down to between 10-15°c.
  2. Build up your tolerance slowly – begin with thirty seconds, alternating warm water until you can sustain the cold water for up to a minute.
  3. Try this practice over time until you can withstand the cold for 2-3 minutes. 

When providing their top tips, the experts at Mirafit noted: 

“For those who have never tried the practice before, it is best to take it slowly. Rather than trying more advanced versions of the therapy, taking cold showers can be just as beneficial for beginners as those who use cold exposure regularly – and can be a key introduction to an effective post-workout routine, leaving your body revitalised and in its best condition to smash your next session.”