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COLD WATER THERAPY

Dave highly recommends cold water therapy as part of your recovery and the benefits are huge not only for mental but physical health too. He completed a challenge called 'Freezing February' where he completed 28 open water swims every day in February 2022 and held a group cold water dip in February 2023.


Photo credit: Sara Porter Photography


WHAT IS COLD WATER THERAPY?


Cold water therapy is the practice of using water that’s around 59°F (15°C) to treat health conditions or stimulate health benefits. It’s also known as cold hydrotherapy.


The practice has been around for a couple of millennia. But recent adaptations include ice baths, brisk daily showers, outdoor swims, and cold water immersion therapy sessions.


HOW DOES IT AID IN RECOVERY?


Training can inflict damage on the musculoskeletal, nervous, and metabolic systems. Scientific studies have tested the effectiveness of cold water immersion therapy by measuring changes in both subjective and objective factors.


  • SUBJECTIVE FACTORS: * Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

  • OBJECTIVE FACTORS: * Creatine kinase (CK) * Blood lactate concentration * C-reactive protein

(CRP) Their studies have shown that cold-water immersion significantly reduces the effects of sore muscles and perceived exertion. A recent meta-analysis concluded that cold-water immersion is an effective technique for: Reducing the symptoms of muscle soreness 24 hours, 48 hours and 96 hours after exercise. Reducing the perceived exertion 24 hours after exercise. Researchers suggest an optimal immersion time between 11 and 15 minutes. And to encourage the occurrence of blood plasma fractionation (movement of the interstitial/intravascular fluid) it is suggested that one remains immersed for at least 10 minutes to optimize 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.


𝑬𝒍𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒚’𝒔 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒎𝒆𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒎𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆𝒔, 𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒉𝒎𝒂, 𝒃𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒔, 𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒑𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒔. 𝑨𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒊𝒏 𝒎𝒂𝒈𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒖𝒎, 𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒑𝒔 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒔, 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒂𝒙 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒎𝒖𝒔𝒄𝒍𝒆𝒔, 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒄𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒂𝒖𝒓𝒂. 𝑺𝒘𝒊𝒎𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒂 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒖𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒔𝒚𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒔𝒚𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒎 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒊𝒔 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒑𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒓𝒆𝒑𝒂𝒊𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒈𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒅𝒐𝒑𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒕𝒐𝒏𝒊𝒏. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒂 𝒗𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒍 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒌𝒆𝒆𝒑𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒖𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒍𝒐𝒘 𝒍𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒍𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒅𝒆𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏.


WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY?


When entering cold water, cold receptors very close to the surface of your skin sense that your skin has been cooled quickly. This results in an initial gasp, followed by rapid, uncontrollable breathing, as well as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This process - also known as the 'cold shock response' - is why it is important that you always enter cold water slowly. You can reduce your 'cold shock response' with repeated immersions in cold water. Repeated exposure to cold water will mean that you will hyperventilate less and will be able to start swimming sooner as you will be able to control your breathing more rapidly. You will know that you are adapting as you should feel more comfortable on repeated exposure to cold water and shiver less when immersed in water of the same temperature for the same duration of time. The temperature threshold at which you start shivering should also reduce. This is known as hypothermic adaption. You may cool more rapidly, but will start to shiver vigorously when the new lower shivering threshold is reached, and will start to 'defend' your deep body temperature closer to the medical definition of hypothermia (35°C).




WHAT BENEFITS WILL YOU EXPERIENCE?

  • Improved lymphatic circulation as cold water forces the lymphatic vessels to contract, pumping lymphatic fluids throughout the body

  • Mental clarity & improved concentration

  • Reduced stress as the cold water causes an explosion of endorphins, as the body uses them to compensate as it's own 'pain reliever'

  • Improved rest cold water stimulates parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a sense of well-being and satisfaction


WARMING UP AFTER


Experts point out that once you get out of the water, your body continues to cool for about 20-30 minutes. This means that your body temperature will be lower 20-30 minutes after swimming than it was when you finished your open water swimming session. Warming up immediately after swimming is vital. You should dry off, remove wet clothing as soon as possible, and quickly dress in warm clothing, including gloves thick socks and have a hot drink. Allow your body to warm up naturally, before taking a hot shower then relax and enjoy the post swim high as the endorphins race through your system.



𝑨𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝒊𝒕’𝒔 𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒑𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒍 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒃𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒚𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒎. Cold water drains body heat up to 4 times faster than cold air. When your body hits cold water, “cold shock” causes some quite dramatic changes to your heart rate and blood pressure and respiratory system.




THE COLD WATER COMMUNITY


If you are serious about cold water swimming, find some local cold water community groups in your area. Groups are a great way to go into open water together for support, motivation and extra safety. You may make friends for life along the way!




IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT TRYING COLD WATER THERAPY, PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU CONSULT YOUR MEDICAL TEAM PRIOR. ALSO FOR BEGINNERS PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU FOLLOW A COLD WATER EXPOSURE PLAN, AHEAD OF THE GAME FOUNDATION HAS GIVEN YOU A GUIDANCE FOR HOW TO SLOWLY IMMERSE YOURSELF INTO COLDER WATER.





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