Despite the fact that not all the benefits that are attributed are fully proven at a scientific level, it seems that showers with cold water can have beneficial effects on our health, especially in the morning they clear us and activate our minds preparing us to face the day.
What Exactly Is A “Cold Water” Shower?
When we talk about cold water showers, we mean a shower with a temperature of between 15-20ºC, and with an exposure of about two minutes maximum. It should be started in shorter times until the body gets used to it. The ideal would be to start with warm water and gradually lower the temperature. Once we are well used to low temperatures, you can start directly with cold water.
Benefits Of Cold Showers
Among these beneficial effects we can highlight:
- Anti-inflammatory effect. When we hit ourselves we apply ice and it works by slowing down nerve conduction so it is also useful for relieving pain. In fact, many athletes use it after training or a competition to recover and improve their performance. During intense training, micro-tears of muscle fibers can occur due to overexertion and these can trigger an inflammatory response in tissue that is relieved simply by taking a cold shower.
- They have a vasoconstrictor effect, they contract blood vessels to protect the body from heat loss, but later these vessels dilate and stimulate circulation, improving tissue oxygenation.
- They strengthen the immune system.
- They help soothe the skin in case of psoriasis, eczema, allergic skin reactions, etc. as they soothe irritated skin and reduce the itching sensation.
- They improve hair health: ending with a quick rinse of cold water after washing our hair with warm water is stimulating and beneficial for the scalp and hair in general.
- Some studies point to them as a useful technique to improve mood. Cold exposure is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and norepinephrine and also increases the synaptic release of norepinephrine in the brain. Furthermore, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, taking a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an antidepressant effect.
- In fibromyalgia patients, the therapy has a significant analgesic effect and does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence.
Do Cold Showers Have Contraindications?
Indeed, some considerations must also be taken into account in this regard:
- Direct exposure to the skin at 0 degrees is not recommended, as it could cause burns.
- Extreme temperatures can cause the release of inflammatory molecules and therefore have an effect contrary to what we are looking for. Instead of being anti-inflammatory, which would be beneficial, it becomes a process that increases inflammation.
- Times should not be exceeded, as it can have a detrimental effect, causing failures in temperature regulation with heart rhythm disturbances, hypothermia, burns if extreme cold temperatures are applied directly to the skin, etc.
- It is absolutely contraindicated in people with a tendency to chilblains, atopic dermatitis, cryoglobulinemia.
- They are also not recommended in patients with heart disease since the contraction of the vessels can accelerate the heart rate and be harmful.
What you should know…
- When we talk about cold water showers, we mean a shower with a temperature between 15-20ºC, and with a maximum exposure of about two minutes.
- We know that cold has an anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictor effect.
- Some studies point to them as a useful technique to improve mood.