Into the Cold Plunge

Chronic pain, headaches, sleep deprivation, a living nightmare for my friend. His resume of doctors, clinics, and attempted therapeutic practices is more impressive than most pro football players or ultimate fighters. A decade ago we battled on the lacrosse field where he received two serious concussions. (the suspected villain in the story) Ten years later his go to remedy for silencing the pain? Cold plunges. Yep, cold cold water. After thousands of dollars of treatment the only thing that provides daily relief is a long cold shower, or submersion in cold water.

5 years ago he invited me to try it, I wasn’t excited. It takes me quite some time to get into a pool thats 75 degrees, sub 60 degree water, yikes. The Challenge: 30 days cold showers or cold plunge.  Cold water sucks, you can’t sugar coat that, it’s horrible.

My first time: I hopped into the cold shower, I shook and started to hyperventilate, as I spun around cursing the gods I could hear my loins cursing back at me. My brain raced to string together magical combinations of curse words. This sick, sadistic experiment was going horribly wrong. Wiggling around like a worm on wet asphalt in the hot morning sun, I could not escape it. This lasted about 45 seconds, and then the birds began to chirp, flowers bloomed, rainbows exploded out of the shower head, equilibrium had been restored. This dramatic euphoria lasted a few minutes and wasn’t really as wonderful as nature, spring time, or rainbows but it was a hell of a lot better than the first 45 seconds. Breathing deeply into my stomach I was able to relax and accepted the cold water. Time slows down, relaxation sets in. When I got out my shoulders were purple, I was shivering, humbled, but proud I didn’t give up.

Note if you want to try this and you live somewhere warm, your cold shower isn’t that cold you big baby, get ice and fill your tub, 3 minutes for the rookies. Also if you have cardiac or other serious conditions please talk to a doctor first.

To Start: Find a good friend, and make a wager. Doing something with someone else, and making a significant financial wager has proven to increase success. So if you really want it, try it this way. Entertain yourself by searching the internet for strange wagers or ways to stay accountable you’ll find plenty of great stuff.

My Review: I’m hooked. After 30 days of cold water I feel excellent. With absolutely no medical testing to back this up I feel better. Inflammation: I’m an active guy so reducing inflammation in the body increases recovery, I noticed I can go harder and more frequently with less pain during off days. Mood: I’m not as moody, and I sleep better. Doing the cold submersion really calms the brain down. (It’s hard to think about all your stress at work when your shivering.) Could it be that mood & sleep are related? In the past I’ve had troubles with depression and stable moods, and I’m convinced without a doubt cold therapy works for mood stabilization. Weight: I wasn’t looking to lose weight but I can tell you my skin tightens up, and it also makes me hungry. Research shows it’s good for weight loss and significantly increases your metabolism, I strongly recommend listening in with Ben Greenfield, from Ben Greenfield Fitness, Tim Ferriss, and the rocket scientist who worked at NASA Ray Cronise. So take a listen right here.

What is actually happening? When you get in cold water your brain sends signals telling the body to save itself from freezing to death (in short). In order to do this it pumps all the blood into the vital organs. I imagine it as the flushing of my internal toilet. By staying submerged inflammation is forced out of joints, and sore muscles. After you get out and warm up all the new oxygenated blood returns to muscles and joints.