Cold therapy refers to exposing your body to cold temperatures for several minutes and has been linked to many physical and neurological benefits.
Cold therapy includes taking cold showers, immersing your body in an ice bath, and cryotherapy chambers exposing your body to extremely cold air.
Here, we’re exploring the benefits of cold therapy and why you might want to incorporate it into your recovery routine.
Benefits of Cold Therapy
Reduces Inflammation, Swelling, and Muscle Soreness
When it comes to athletic performance and recovery from training, cold therapy is amazing for reducing inflammation and swelling while soothing sore muscles.
Cold temperatures cause your blood vessels to contract, reducing blood flow to the area. In other words, the less blood that’s rushing to an area, the less inflammation and swelling you’ll experience.
It’s why we apply ice to an injury and why it’s so effective for reducing the swelling.
For sore muscles, cold therapy, even if only applied directly to the area, can also speed up the healing process. So, when you see professional athletes and dancers take an ice bath during the season, it’s to aid in the muscle rebuilding process.
Reduces Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorders
Exposing your body to cold temperatures creates a physiological response that releases adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins into your bloodstream.
These hormones can improve your mood, alleviating some symptoms of mood disorders. depression, and anxiety.
Additionally, cold therapy requires that you control your breathing. It’s an inevitable byproduct of the experience. Simply taking deep breaths on a regular basis can improve symptoms of these psychological issues and is another reason cold therapy seems to be so effective.
Plus, by putting your body in a stressful situation that is under your control, you’re training your mind to withstand the discomfort. In this way, you’re learning how to manage uncomfortable situations in your everyday life which not only improves your mood but can reduce anxiety and depression.
Improves Immune Response
Some studies show that cold therapy can even improve your immune response. It’s unclear whether it’s the cold therapy or, again, the deep breathing techniques, that are responsible for this positive result. But nonetheless, there seems to be a correlation.
Another potential reason why cold therapy could boost the immune system is that by voluntarily putting your body through stress for a short period of time, you’re essentially training your body to handle more stress than it would normally.
In the same way that cold therapy can improve psychological issues by training your brain to deal with stressful situations in a controlled environment, it’s also teaching your body how to withstand physiological stress as well.
According to Wim Hof, the world-famous “Ice Man” who has dazzled scientists with his physical feats using cold therapy, exposing yourself to cold temperatures can also improve your sleep, increase your metabolism, and sharpen your focus.
It seems that all of these benefits are deeply connected with the benefits of specific breathing techniques and immersion therapy. Still, especially for athletes and anyone who trains regularly, the recovery benefits are undeniable.
So, whether you went a little too hard on last week’s kickboxing session or you’re looking to train your mind and body to withstand controlled discomfort, cold therapy is definitely a technique to look into.
As always, talk to your trainer, a doctor, or a cold therapy professional to make sure you’re practicing cold therapy safely and effectively.