Improve Stress & Recovery With Cold Water Immersion

Nov 22, 2021

Two weeks ago I started implementing cold-water immersion into my daily routine and normally an article like this would come much later on (if of course I found said modality to be valuable), but the results thus far have been so apparent and positive that I couldn't wait.

I'm sure you've seen the more expensive options to utilize cold baths, but what I've been using is inexpensive and is a great place to start if you're new to cold water therapy. Here's the link to my cold bath.

Benefits Of Cold Water Immersion

1. Boosts Immune Function

Apart from that, it can also increase your chances of staying healthy and not being taken away from your training because you're not feeling great. 

2. It Aids Sleep

And we're all aware that no great training program is complete if your sleep & recovery are off. 

3. Stress Reduction

It doesn't matter how great your training program is, if you're chronically stressed out you'll likely stall with your progress or even go backward. Managing stress is a key component of writing great programs, but as coaches, it's important to teach our clients how to down-regulate the stress response as well.

4. Improves Metabolism

Losing stubborn adipose tissue is only a bonus as I'd argue that real benefits lie in cold therapy's ability to down-regulate the stress response, which will likely have a bigger overall effect on losing body fat.

5. Provides A Form Of Meditation & Breathing Practice for Type A People

I'm all for meditating, but I struggle to stay present when trying to do so. Submerge yourself in a cold bath and you'll have no choice but to be present which is a terrific time to focus on quality nasal breathing. I recommend a 5-second nasal inhale followed by a 5-second nasal exhale. For more info on the benefits of nasal breathing, check out Oxygen Advantage.

6. Relieve Joint Stress & Muscular Soreness

Cold water temperature is effective in reducing the pressure and pain that is experienced by the muscle and joint, which is hardly a new topic that is supported in various studies.

Getting Started

I started with daily 5:00 cold showers. At my house, we have well water that is cold AF so this was actually pretty brutal and in some ways more painful than full immersion.

Once I started doing full immersion I experimented with different temperatures but found the sweet spot to be in the mid to high 40s. Anything below 40 degrees was tough to stay submerged in for more than a few minutes so I find myself emptying in filling my cold tub multiple times a week as the air temperature is in the 20s at night.

Here's my protocol:

3-4 sessions per week x 5:00 of full immersion.

You can certainly start with much less though and still get a big bang for the buck.

Starting with a 50-55 degree water temp for 2-3 minute sets x 3 times a week is a great starting point.

I perform these sessions at night before I take a shower - you'll find a hot shower is needed quickly thereafter!

In case you're wondering, I test my water temp with a $25 laser temp gauge I purchased on Amazon.

Closing

Of course, the benefits don't end there, and depending on what paper you read you can likely find another dozen reasons to use cold water immersion. What I can say from my own personal experience is that I immediately noticed a reduction in stress and with three young kids as well as living the #entrepreneur life I'll take any reduction in stress I can get! 

Last but not least, you're probably wondering how much is needed? I've read various sources that say as little as 10 minutes a week is enough. I started cold water immersion prior to knowing this though and was doing 10 minutes a day. I've since dropped to 5 minutes and have still noticed the same benefits.