Would you believe that swimming in cold water can be just as effective as strong painkillers? Sometimes it really is that simple, and we can use the environment around us to help to cure what ails us. Cold therapy is a relatively new trend that has been gaining traction, in large part due to Wim Hof, or more commonly known as the Ice Man, who has publicly sustained long periods in freezing temperatures and who has also climbed Mt. Everest wearing nothing but shorts. He shakes our reality by showing us what the human body is capable of, as many of us would have thought that you would die or get hypothermia from such acts.
Now, as this growing trend continues to gain popularity, so does cryotherapy, which involves exposing the body to extreme temperatures, around -300 degrees for a short period of time using a device called a cryochamber. This process can cause cell regeneration, which can be very beneficial for your health. Popular author and biohacker, Dave Asprey has done a great job bringing attention to this technology as he believes in this method of healing so much that he has his very own cryochamber in his Bulletproof Labs. It seems there is definitely something to this cold therapy.
At The Very Least Cold Water Is Invigorating
Have you ever jumped into a cold body of water, swam in a cold lake or ended your shower on cold? Not only do you feel totally revitalized awake and refreshed, but often your body feels warm almost instantly and ready for the day. If you ever feel nauseous, it’s amazing how much better you will feel after exposing yourself to the cold, this is such a simple and effective method.
Recently a story was reported by the dailymail online about a man, whose name is not given who jumped into the ocean and had his chronic pain, which had gone on for months, go into complete remission. This phenomenon was also reported in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
Remission From Pain From A Cold Water Swim
This man had undergone a surgery 10 weeks earlier in order to reduce extreme and involuntary blushing of his face, this condition is known as Idiopathic Craniofacial Erythema. The operation which is quite simple involves cutting the nerves that control the blood flow to the face. These nerves are found inside the rib cage near the top of the chest. Unfortunately the operation caused slight damage to neighboring nerves, which resulted in a severe and repeated stabbing pain.
The man was prescribed strong painkillers and physiotherapy, neither of which offered much assistance even after two months. As the doctors wrote, ‘The patient reported pain was associated with significant distress, prevented return to pre-operative levels of recreational sport and impaired quality of life.’
The man being very frustrated felt hopeless as to what to do, but one day he decided to take a swim in cold water in an attempt to manage the pain through distraction. He jumped in and remarkably, after only 60 seconds he no longer felt any pain. The doctors believe that it was the sudden plunge into the cold water that induced a wave of activity though his nervous system which led to an altered state of consciousness that offered the man seemingly instant relief.
The following is his recount of the story,
‘I initially thought – “damn this is so cold I’m going to die!”
‘I just swam for my life – Once I was in the water, I had tunnel vision – for the first time in months, I completely forgot about the pain or the fear of shooting pains in my chest if I moved.
‘My entire body tingled with the cold.
‘I just knew if I didn’t keep swimming, I’d soon freeze.
‘After a few moments I actually enjoyed it – it was just an immersive rush of adrenaline. I bet I couldn’t have felt my pain, even if I tried’.
He added: ‘When I came out of the water, I realized the neuropathic pain had gone away. I couldn’t believe it.’
The doctors concluded that ‘Further prospective Investigation is needed to assess the replicability and feasibility of forced cold water swimming as a potentially effective, natural intervention to enhance recovery outcomes from common postoperative complications.’
Is This Really A Feasible Option?
The story above is one instance from one man so we definitely need more scientific studies to prove this as a type of treatment method. The great thing about this however, is that you can test it for yourself and see how you feel after taking a cold plunge into a body of water. You can start off by simply turning the water to cold for the last 30 seconds of your shower and gradually increasing the time. After you experience just how good this makes you feel, you might find the courage to take this even farther and take an ice bath or a dip in the pacific or a cold lake near you!
From my experience the best part about taking a cold shower, is that you are essentially facing your fears, and telling your brain that you are capable of doing this, and once done you then think okay I did that, and I was afraid and I really didn’t want to, but I did and I feel great! Now, what else can I do, what else am I capable of? This process is great for willpower and pushing your limits!