Cold Therepy

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Most of you may seem to think that intentionally enduring cold, or any kind of intentional discomfort for that matter is a little crazy…. On the contrary.

In small doses in a controlled environment, cold therapy can be incredibly beneficial for ones health. I have come to think of polar plunging as one

of my favorite seasonal activities here in Minnesota. Now whether you see cold therapy as a means for the health benefits or just simply testing your physical prowess, I like to acknowledge its powers for strengthening and expanding our mental capacity as well.

The mind over the body, through the breath…. Yes, that’s right. Breath work is the key to your mental and physical capacity to endure whatever life throws at you. Now yes, one can endure cold therapy without breath practice or breath awareness for that matter. But I want to strongly encourage the practice of breath work when preparing for cold therapy. (Side note; I encourage breath work in general, with various techniques for whatever life may throw at you.) But staying focused on the topic at hand, here are a few links to dive deeper down this rabbit hole if you are curious.

The list of health benefits is so extensive, I will just share a few of the most commonly acknowledged ones. Lowered blood pressure, reduced inflammation, stimulating the growth of brown fat while burning the unhealthier white fat…. The list goes on, but my personal favorite is the release of endorphins, similar to the “runners high.” It truly gets you out of your head and into your body. One might ask what the benefits of that may be and for me, it is an opportunity to be present. Yes, present with the body and to truly feel alive!!!

Cold therapy for a Minimum of 30-40 seconds and up to say 5-10 minutes in a controlled environment is the window where they say the most health benefits arise. Any more than that and it becomes a pursuit that is more for the competitive nature and beyond any health benefits. Icing a strain or a sprain in a isolated area is a little different and you can treat that with an ice pack for up to 45-60 minutes but for the entire body, any more than 5-10 minutes is on one hand, slowly conditioning you to endure more but on the other hand, risking various issues like frost bite or hypothermia. It is a delicate balance and one has to be in the right mind to step into this territory. It is safe to say that not everyone has the desire to want to break through the discomfort, but you can’t reap the rewards without putting in the work…

There are a few different ways to go about cold therapy and year round, the easiest to access would be cold showers. When I started doing this years ago, I would finish my hot shower with gradually turning the knob to cold and taking in just a few breaths and gradually building up to a few minutes. After 3 plus years of practicing this, I still find cold showers much more challenging than say, just dipping into a cold lake or a ice bath for that matter. Athletes are all too familiar with ice baths but most of them may over look the health benefits beyond just helping with inflammation from their game/ activity of choice. And then there are also places that you can pay for memberships to do what they call cryotherapy which is a dry cold and when the treatment/ experience is over, there are no residual chills that you typically get from the other cold therapies. However, I believe there is something with experiencing the shivers and learning how to regulate your body through the breath as one of the benefits that takes place. I am a little bit of a stickler when it comes to spending money on certain things and not that cryotherapy isn’t beneficial, I just find it so much more rewarding to plunge into a hole on a frozen lake… and that’s free!!!

So what are you waiting for!? Let’s tap into our true potential little by little, through small doses of controlled and quantified intentional discomfort. I assure you that initially it may be terrifying or even perhaps a little painful, but your body will adapt and it IS soooo good for you!!! As long as you are smart about it and don’t push your limits too far, too fast. It’s all about the power of the mind, over the body, through the breath…. You got this!!! You might even find yourself having fun with it like I have come to enjoy!

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