Get the Chills on Purpose: A Guide to Cold Therapy
Ready to feel better with cold therapy?
Although we usually think of cold temperatures as something to be avoided, did you know that exposure to the cold can have a lot of health benefits?
It’s true! From boosting your immune system to increasing your energy levels, cold therapy can help improve your overall health.
Enter the world of cold therapy and learn how it works and the many benefits it offers.
So whether you’re looking for a way to boost your energy levels, improve your circulation, or reduce inflammation, read on—cold therapy just might be for you!
How Cold Therapy Works
Cold therapy works by causing vasoconstriction or your blood vessels to constrict. This decreases blood flow to the area.
Vasoconstriction can help or hurt your body, depending on the situation.
Peripheral vasoconstriction is a bodily response that lessens blood flow to your skin to prevent heat loss when you’re cold.
So, how is this a good thing?
The decreased blood flow means that there is less inflammation and pain in the area.
Cold therapy is often used to treat injuries such as strains, and sprains, and also numbs the nerves in the area, providing pain relief.
And, cold therapy stimulates the release of catecholamines (the main types of catecholamines are dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) which are hormones that each create very impactful effects.
Dopamine, for example, helps regulate your mood and boosts energy. Norepinephrine increases alertness and memory recall. And epinephrine creates a heightened sense of focus while boosting your immune system.
So, as you can see cold therapy has numerous benefits for our bodies! But how do you go about using cold therapy?
The good news is there are several different ways to deliver cold therapy to create these physiological responses.
The Benefits of Cold Therapy
Now that we know how it works, let’s explore some of the benefits that cold therapy can offer.
Cold therapy has been shown to stimulate the body and brain, providing a range of potential health benefits.
The best-known advantages of cold therapy are its anti-inflammatory properties and pain relief. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation, swelling, and discomfort in the body by decreasing blood flow to the area.
By constricting blood vessels and numbing nerves, cold therapy can help to reduce inflammation and pain associated with conditions like:
- Tension headaches
- Muscle Soreness
- and more
Whether you’re recovering from an injury, or simply dealing with everyday pain management, exposure to cold can help to take the edge off.
In addition to reducing pain, cold therapy can also help to reduce swelling, which is why it is often prescribed to recover from certain surgeries. This is because the constriction of blood vessels caused by cold therapy decreases the amount of fluid that can build up in the area.
Cold therapy can also help to improve circulation. Constricting the blood vessels allows for more efficient circulation. Improved circulation means that oxygenated blood can reach damaged or inflamed areas more quickly.
In addition to managing existing problems, conscious cold therapy has been shown to improve energy levels, sleep quality, and mental well-being. This is why self-care routines often emphasize the importance of incorporating cold Therapy.
Intentional cold therapy has now become popular as people have realized all of the benefits it offers.
Since healthcare is rapidly changing, there has never been a more important time to prioritize self-care.
Mental stress is on the rise, sleep deprivation is becoming more common, and chronic illnesses are causing people to seek relief.
Overall, cold therapy is great for your well-being and can be a form of self-care. Some benefits include:
- Reducing stress
- Improving focus
- Boosting energy levels
In addition, it has been shown to help with anxiety and depression by increasing catecholamine levels which consequently improves moods. Also, quality sleep and improved immunity are other often reported effects of consistent cold exposure!
If you’re worried about your metabolic age or just want to be healthier, cold water therapy can help.
It boosts metabolism by thermogenesis or burning more calories through heat generation, which can lead to weight loss. Altering core body temperature has been shown to affect metabolic health, boosting the immune response and even reducing visceral fat.
Cold water immersion therapy can help improve your performance by reducing recovery time and soreness after high-intensity exercise. Positive outcomes have been reported for muscle power, muscle soreness, and perceived recovery.
Lastly, cold therapy can help to improve your skin health by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and boosting collagen production. Cold therapy stimulates collagen production which helps keep our skin looking younger and healthier for longer.
There are many benefits to incorporating cold therapy into your wellness routine, so how can you best take advantage of them?
What Cold Treatment Method is Best and How to Get Started
I’m sure we’ve all had an injury and grabbed ice packs or bags of frozen peas and applied it directly to the affected area, but there are other methods of applying cold therapy.
When thinking of adding cold water therapy to your self-care routine, always remember: why are you doing this?
It’s essential to have a solid understanding of your motives because it’ll be much easier to push through the pain barrier and reap the benefits in the long run.
Where to Start
Whichever method you choose to explore, start slowly because everyone will be starting from a different baseline. This is like any other training activity, your body has to adapt.
Anywhere from a few minutes a week or a few hours a month can yield results. But, again build slowly and cycle in and out of different times to keep the body on tilt.
The thermosensitivity of the hands, feet, and face make them ideal for exposure to the cold.
Sensitivity to cold temperatures varied greatly across the palm of both men’s and women’s hands, so the degrees of cold exposure should be monitored.
Colder water temperatures activate the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increased alertness and mental clarity.
Cold showers can be a great way to start your day and jump-start your brain.
Cold Water Immersion
Another popular method is cold water immersion—think ice baths or cold plunging into frigid lakes, oceans, or any of the commercially available products on the market.
An ice bath can be a simple, cost-effective way to go to the next level from a cold shower.
Easily accessible and simple to use, ice packs can be a great way to get the cooling effects of cold therapy.
Explore the Cold Outdoors
Crisp and fresh cold air is one of the best ways to reap all the rewards of cold therapy. The temperature doesn’t have to be freezing for you to gain the most out of your outdoor experience.
Sure you can take a walk in the cold air, but one form of therapy can simply wear a little less clothing to get the chills on purpose for just a few minutes. Try going barefoot as well to maximize the experience.
Some people even undergo whole-body cryotherapy, in which they spend several minutes in a chamber cooled to -200 degrees Fahrenheit!
Cold Compression Therapy
Combining the wonders of compression therapy with cold can magnify the outcome.
Cold compression therapy can be accomplished with an ice pack wrapped around the affected area and held in place with an elastic bandage or a specific device that pumps cold water or air into a sleeve to apply pressure as well as cool.
The potential risks associated with cold therapy should not be taken lightly.
Cold exposure can lead to numbness and tissue damage if used for too long or without proper care.
It is advised to consult your doctor before starting any cold therapy routine and make sure that the method you choose is suitable for your individual needs and body condition.
All in all, there are many advantages to trying out cold therapy.
If you’re looking for a natural way to relieve pain or reduce inflammation, boost your energy levels, or improve your circulation, make sure to give it a shot—you just might be surprised by how much it helps!
Be excited about how giving yourself the chills could be exactly what you need.