Cold Therapy – Can A Shock To The System Heal Pain?

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

This morning I watched something on Netflix talking about “Cold Therapy”.

This past weekend I started watching “The Goop Lab” with Gwyneth Paltrow on Netflix.  At first I wasn’t certain if this series would be something I would be interested in watching at all… But after giving episode one a chance, I became very interested.  These episodes touch on not so talked about ways of healing your body, mind and soul.  Anyone watching these episodes should question everything and not just assume that these techniques are “the all and end all” of all techniques.  It’s up to you to make up your own mind.


Cold Therapy

Having said that, the episode “Cold Comfort” is the one I find intriguing at the moment.  I have heard a lot about how the breath affects our body.  There is also a lot written on the subject of mind over matter and on how the body can heal itself of anything.  Please remember that no matter the healing techniques chosen, it is recommended to first consult with your physician.


The “Cold Comfort” episode introduces us to Wym Hof, creator of the Wym Hof method.  This man’s journey started through grief after the loss of his wife.  His wife committed suicide by jumping out of an 8th story window.  She was a beautiful woman who lived with depression and anxiety.  Wym tells us how she first kissed each of their 4 children as if to say goodbye, and then jumped out of the window.  He doesn’t tell us if he was in the room or not when this happens.  What he does say is that his journey to understand and to heal began because of this event… this pain… this grief.


Are the benefits worth it?

Mr. Wim Hof returned to nature to begin his own healing.  He discovered that putting his body through a breathing exercise and then the harshness of the outdoors, especially the cold, he gained the following benefits.  (See his website for the full list).  I think the benefits are more than worth the try.

  1. Increased energy.

  2. Better sleep.

  3. Heightened focus & determination.

  4. Improved sports performance.

  5. Increased willpower.

  6. Reduced stress levels.

  7. Stronger immune system.

The Goop Lab staff tries it out.

Yes… Some of Gwyneth’s staff goes to Lake Tahoe and gives this method a try.  I believe they were there for only 2 days (not certain) and were able to stand in the snow, in their bathing suits, practicing the wim hof method, have a snow ball fight, and jump in -7 degree Celcius water, swim back to shore, and wait for the others to have their turn… without feeling the cold over power them.   One lady who had been living with chronic panic attack disorder (or panic disorder) has not had a panic attack since.  She is now, with the help of her doctor, weaning herself off of her medication.


The Wim Hof Method

The wim hof method is based on three powerful pillars.  Here they are below as per the wimhofmethod.com website.


Cold therapy

The cold is your warm friend and one of the three pillars of the wim hof method. Proper exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins— the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood. – wymhofmethod.com


Breathing

The second pillar of the wim hof method is breathing. We’re always breathing, yet we’re mostly unaware of its tremendous potential. Heightened oxygen levels hold a treasure trove of benefits, and the specialized breathing technique of the Wim Hof Method unearths them all: more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response that swiftly deals with pathogens. – wymhofmethod.com


Commitment

The third pillar of the wim hof method is the foundation of the other two: both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication in order to be fully mastered. Armed with focus and determination you are ready to explore and eventually master your own body and mind. – wymhofmethod.com


The Benefits of Ice Bath

Have you yet heard of the “Ice Bath Therapy”.  Many athletes will take an ice cold bath, ice included, for about 10 to 15 minutes after a hard workout or competition.  It is said to relieve post-workout pain.  I know some of our Roller Derby ladies here in Moncton (Muddy River Rollers) use this method as away to reduce muscle soreness, muscle damage, and inflammation.

You can read more about ice baths by clicking on this link: Ice Bath Benefits


What about a cold shower?  Polar dips?

While watching this episode, people other than the staff were interviewed.  These people have overcome their own health challenges by using the breathing method before taking a cold shower for as little as 30 seconds.  One Mom and her 15 year old teen regularly go for a dip in the cold ocean.  Do you take cold showers?  Or like me, do you take your very hot showers?  I’m starting to think I should try a short cold shower here