This week's question -
What are your thoughts on cryotherapy/ cold showers? I hate the cold but would do it if it helped.
My answer -
This has been a "hot" topic recently (pun intended) both in my own research and conversations with patients. Excerpts from a 2019 study have recently been circulating on social media, (yes if you follow me, I was a part of this) stating some of the benefits of cold exposure. This study found that exposure to cold water (11-15 degrees Celsius) for a total of 11-15 minutes per week can be beneficial in recovery.
Other studies have also found that a similar protocol of cold exposure can decrease inflammation, strengthen the nervous system, and aide in weight loss.
Based on this info, cold exposure is definitely a modality I can get behind. It is showing positive side effects, with little to no risk and can be accessed with little time and financial impact.
As far as how the cold exposure is achieved - I think the easiest way is to turn the shower as cold as you can tolerate it right before getting out. If you can tolerate 3 minutes, and do 3-4x per week, you are doing great.
Cryotherapy is a good way to achieve this as well, especially if you are going for colder temps, however to my knowledge it has not been found as superior to any other type of cold exposure.
**If you have poor temperature regulation, or are under 12 years old, cold exposure may not be right for you. If you do want to try, use a regulated temperature, and have a strategy for warming afterwards.