Do you have any information on the physiological mechanisms behind the benefits of a cold soak or cold shower?
Using cold soaks or showers, also known as the ancient healing art of hydrotherapy, has many benefits according to many top health care professionals. Hydrotherapy actually dates back to about 4,000 b.c. where, in ancient Greek temples, water baths were used as a treatment for the sick.
Hydrotherapy is believed by many to improve circulation. It will “trigger the basic healing mechanisms of the body,” says Jared Zeff, a naturopathic-licensed acupuncturist and professor of naturopathic medicine at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Cold soaks can also be used to treat inflammation and help provide pain relief. The cold water slows down the ability of the nerves to transmit pain. According to a popular Swedish treatment where a cold soak or swim (with a water temperature between 65 and 75 degrees) follows a hot bath or shower, the body’s circulation and digestion is strengthened. Feelings of comfort and pleasure are said to be felt after this treatment. This can also lead to an increase in energy.
Cold water or ice can be used to treat muscle spasms as well. The cold will narrow the blood vessels (known as vasoconstriction) and can reduce the swelling of the surrounding tissues. The spasm is then broken up. Twenty minutes should be the maximum time for one treatment.
Some warnings should be mentioned about taking cold soaks or showers. They should be avoided if heart or digestive problems or high blood pressure is present, unless medical advice is sought first.