Updated: Aug 20, 2020
CWI is a form of therapy/method whereby you immerse yourself into cold water (≤15˚C/59°F) in order to enhance the healing process post-workout. This can be done in the form of ice baths or cold showers. However, it does much more than increase the recovery of sore muscles!
We all know that it’s a pain in the ass to get into cold water and remain there in order to see benefits. Researchers suggest that one remains immersed for at least 10 minutes to optimise the full recovery effects. Although, positive effects of cold-water immersion have been reported for durations between 1 and 15 minutes, so it may still be beneficial to opt for shorter immersion sessions. (1,2)
There is no way you would put yourself through the stress of cold therapy without knowing the benefits right? Me neither. Some of the benefits include:
Increase lymphatic system activation.
Improved immune response (COVID-19; be gone!)
Improved blood circulation.
I won’t go over all of these. However, I will explain the main reason cold therapy would benefit these briefly; stay with me!
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that runs throughout your entire body clearing out waste, bacteria, toxins out of your cells. Think of it as your body’s device. Unlike the heart which pumps blood around the body, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump which means it requires muscle contraction/cold therapy to pump out and remove the toxins! This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. Therefore, if you’re not exercising regularly or have an inefficient lymphatic system then cold therapy is for YOU.
At Revival we train hard, we get results! However, what YOU do in between your sessions will give you that extra edge! A recent meta-analysis concluded that CWI is an effective technique for:
Reducing the symptoms of sore muscles 24,48 and 96 hours after exercise. (1,2)
Reducing the perceived exertion 24 hours after exercise. (1,2)
Foam rolling and static stretching not quite doing it for your recovery? Tired of hobbling in and out of work after a tough session at Revival? Maybe try and activate your lymphatic system via CWI to keep you injury free and forever super-compensating (improving).
Believe me when I tell you I HATED cold water and would stay away from it all costs, until I started seeing the results from it. Here are some great ways to start changing your habits into more CWI:
At the end of your warm shower, turn it to cold and try to withstand 30s.
Each week try and add an additional 30 seconds.
Try some breathing techniques before entering the cold water.
Eventually your body will adapt to the cold water and you will be ready for some serious benefits via ice baths and long cold showers!
One Cold Shower A Day Keeps The Doctor Away!
Bleakley, C., McDonough, S., Gardner, E., Baxter, G.D., Hopkins, J.T., & Davison, G.W. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 15(2). CD008262.
Hohenauer E, Taeymans J, Baeyens J-P, Clarys P, Clijsen R (2015) The Effect of Post-Exercise Cryotherapy on Recovery Characteristics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0139028. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139028