Hydrotherapy is the use of water at various temperatures and degrees of pressure for therapeutic purposes such as to stimulate blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, for pain relief as well as relaxation.
You may think it is impossible to put more than one toe in cold water but after getting hot in a jacuzzi or sauna, your body will ask for it. Start slowly but don't be too shy about it. The benefits are great.
Besides the physical benefits, you will experience an unsurpassed sense of wellbeing that spills over the mental and emotional spheres.
How to use Cold water Immersions?
Alternate from hot tub or sauna to cold plunge or shower.
Why use Cold water Immersions?
Dr. Mercola writes about cold thermogenesis – www.mercola.com
A 28-year-old man was suffering from severe, persistent pain after receiving surgery for excessive facial flushing “Desperate to get some relief,” he decided to go for a swim in a cold body of open water; he stayed in the water for only about a minute, and when he got out he was pain free
Beyond pain relief, exposing your body to cold temperatures for short periods of time improves health by inducing incredibly mitochondrial-dense brown adipose tissue (BAT) to improve metabolic function. One of the physiological functions of body fat is to be used as fuel to heat your body if you have active BAT metabolism. This is accomplished by uncoupling the mitochondria from producing ATP and actually producing heat instead.
By regularly exposing yourself to cold, you build up a mitochondria-rich tissue in brown fat and help your body generate heat, which actually lowers your blood sugar and decreases . Beige fat is a derivative of brown fat and is recruited through your white fat, which can then be used to heat your body and maintain a more active-passive metabolism.
Indeed, the conclusion I reached after many decades of studying health is that as your primary fuel is a key to preserving and maintaining your health. There are a number of ways to reach this goal, including through diet, but there’s also a tremendous synergy with cold thermogenesis.
Cold Temperaturess Benefit Your Brain, Stress Tolerance
Aside from the metabolic benefits, when you're exposed to cold your body increases production of nor-epinephrine in the brain, which is involved in focus and attention. It also improves mood and alleviates pain, partly because it lowers inflammation. You can twofold just by getting into 40-degree F water for 20 seconds, or 57-degree F water for a few minutes, according to biological scientist Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D.
While best known as a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine also acts as a hormone. One of its functions is causing vasoconstriction, which helps your body conserve heat. Norepinephrine also acts as a signaling molecule to make more mitochondria in your fat tissue (your main energy reserves), and a byproduct of energy production is heat. This also helps prepare you for the next time you're exposed to cold.
The more times you're exposed to cold, the more mitochondria you make in your fat cells and the better you can withstand lower temperatures, a process sometimes referred to as “hardening.” Hardening is the exposure to a natural stimulus, such as cold water, that results in increased tolerance to stress and disease. This was demonstrated by a study involving 10 healthy people who swim regularly in ice-cold water during the winter.
“A drastic decrease in plasma uric acid concentration was observed during and following the exposure to the cold stimulus,” the researchers explained,12 which is notable because when your uric acid level exceeds about 5.5 mg per deciliter, you have an increased risk for a host of diseases including heart disease, fatty liver, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and more.
“Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and nor-adrenaline and to increase synaptic release of nor-adrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
Cryotherapy may also temporarily relieve pain from diseases such as , and fibromyalgia (in the latter case the cryotherapy involved cold air cooled by addition of nitrogen blown on the patients in an open cabin).15
In another study, fibromyalgia patients who received whole body cryotherapy reported significantly improved quality of life, with the beneficial effects lasting for at least one month after treatment. “Based on recent findings, it can be expected that whole body cryotherapy can improve health-reported quality of life by alleviating the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain and fatigue,”16 the researchers noted.
How to Use Cryotherapy to Boost Your Health
Using cryotherapy to your advantage may help to improve your health by boosting mitochondrial function and metabolic efficiency. If you want to give it a try, there are many options, from expensive cryotherapy booths found at high-end spas to taking a cold shower at home. Some of the simplest options include:
Applying an ice pack or cold gel pack
Applying an iced towel (simply wet a towel and freeze it) or massaging with ice cubes
Taking a cold shower or alternating between cold and hot in your shower
Taking an ice bath
Exercising in cold weather wearing few articles of clothing
Jumping into an unheated pool following sauna or exercise
Swimming in the ocean when water temperatures are low
Turning down the thermostat in your house in the winter to about 60 degrees F
Be sure to start off gradually and keep exposures short — no more than a few minutes to 10 or 20 minutes after you have acclimated. Further, cryotherapy is contraindicated for pregnant women, young children and those with high blood pressure or a heart condition. Cold causes acute vasoconstriction, which can be potentially dangerous if you have high blood pressure or heart failure. A quick cold shower would probably be OK, but avoid ice baths or other extreme cold water immersion techniques.
To gain benefits, however, it is not necessary to swim in ice water. Instead, start slowly around 70 degrees F or so and gradually work your way down to the 40s, giving your body a chance to acclimate in the process.
Always listen to your body, but you may be surprised at how invigorated you feel following a cold shower or a quick dip in a cold pool. Regularly exposing yourself to cold temperatures is a simple way to help improve your mitochondrial function, which is a foundation of good health, and if you’re suffering from chronic pain, it may help to provide lasting relief for that, too.