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Those of us looking to perform at peak levels in our daily lives are constantly on the hunt for something that improves the way we move through the world. Health experts preach that cold exposure is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Bettering our lives may be as simple as embracing the chill.
It’s no wonder that cold therapy has swept the beauty, fitness, and wellness world in a multitude of ways. Often known as cryotherapy, cold therapy is actually one of mankind’s oldest medical treatments. It’s now used by the world’s best athletes for peak performance, body-conscious consumers to blast fat cells, and wellness fanatics in pursuit of optimal health.
From ancient empresses to the modern-day woman, the use of cold therapy in the pursuit of beauty is a practice that has withstood the test of time. The Russian Empress Catherine the Great was said to have applied ice cubes to her face, neck, and décolletage every morning to give her skin a radiant appearance. Kate Moss has mentioned that she submerges her face in a bowl of ice-cold water to brighten her complexion. Whether you’re an overworked executive, athletic fitness fan, or beauty lover, cold therapy will empower you to put your best foot (or face) forward.
What is Cold Therapy
Essentially, cold therapy is exposing your body to a cold environment for a controlled period of time. What can result from this when practiced on a regular basis are long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems that enhance the overall quality of your life.
What is The Wim Hof Method
Photo credit: Wim Hof Method
Cold therapy has been further sensationalized thanks to Wim Hof. He’s otherwise known as the Iceman and he’s done some wild things in his lifetime. Hof can hold himself in ice water for nearly two hours. He’s climbed Mount Everest, with nothing but shorts on. And he ran a half-marathon, barefoot, above the Arctic Circle. This man loves the cold and he wants you to love it too.
Hof says “The cold makes you go within”. Hof has been practicing his self-developed techniques called the Wim Hof Method, which is designed to help the human body become more resilient against physical and psychological stress. The method is science-backed with researchers finding that volunteers who had trained in Wim Hof’s method of cold exposure could voluntarily activate their sympathetic nervous system to suppress their immune response.
The Wim Hof Method has popularized the use of cold therapy to improve athletic performance, improve immunity, and mitigate symptoms of chronic disease.
How Cold Showers Can Improve Your Health
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Not all of us may want to run across Antarctica half naked, but not to worry because you can still reap the benefits of cold therapy simply from taking cold showers. Taking a cold shower benefits numerous body systems, including our lymphatic system and our largest organ, the skin. Besides improving overall well-being, cold showers are known to help reduce inflammation, improve sleep, ease pain, and alleviate anxiety and depression. Below we dive into a few of the most important health benefits of cold therapy:
Improve Lymphatic Circulation
If you're following this blog, you know that we're fans of lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system helps the body cleanse itself. It’s a network of vessels that run throughout the body, clearing out waste, bacteria, and microbes from your cells.
Unlike your blood, which is constantly pumped through your body by the heart, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a central pump and relies on muscle contraction to pump the lymph fluid through the vessels. Without exercise, the fluid stagnates and toxins build-up, which can show up in the form of colds, joint pain, infection, and even disease.
Out with the bad and in with the good. Cold water therapy stimulates your lymph vessels to contract and forces your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body. The end result? Waste is removed from your body. Cold showers also trigger the immune system’s white blood cells, prompting them to attack any unwanted substance in the fluid.
Boost Happiness Levels
With winter approaching, it can seem counterintuitive to be seeking out cold. But the brutal weather causes many of us to experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and our mood suffers from the lack of sunshine.
A 2007 research study found that cold showers can help treat depression symptoms. The cold water actually triggers a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, which make you feel happy. The healing power of nature never ceases to amaze. The next time you’re feeling down, try rinsing down in cold water, and thank us later!
Improve Hair and Skin
With the change of seasons, many struggles with dull skin and hair that’s affected by the cold weather. If this is you, you’ll be happy to know that another health benefit of cold therapy is improved skin and hair health. Cold water helps to reduce the size of your pores and tightens your skin and you’re less likely to deal with greasy hair or breakouts. The cold water also stimulates hair follicles and improves hair thickness and length.
Easy Ways To Add Cryotherapy To Your Life
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Do you want to add ice therapy to your life? Here are a few easy tips that will have you embracing the chill:
Alternate between cold and hot in your shower: Alternating hot and cold for one to two minutes at a time for periods of up to fifteen minutes has been shown to reduce swelling and lead to faster restoration of speed and power after a workout.
Add ice cubes to a cold bath: Simply fill your tub with cold water and place ice cubes from your freezer into the bath. Immersing yourself 10 minutes is recommended but everyone has their own cold threshold. Ice baths will have you sleeping and feeling better.
Look for a gym, thermal baths or spa that has a cold plunge, or if you live close to a river or lake, keep tabs on the water temperature.
Cold Therapy For Your Best Skin Yet
Photo credit: Maison Ito, The Eyes Revival
Beauty enthusiasts can rejoice alongside their holistic health-conscious, yoga-practicing counterparts. Cold therapy has long been a staple in red carpet facials thanks to its ability to give instant visible results, lifting and tightening the skin, constricting pores as well as stimulating blood flow to give a visible glow.
Facials that utilize cold therapy aka “cryotherapy facials” harness the power of the cold to reduce redness, calm inflammation, and brighten a dull complexion. By stimulating our lymph system, cold therapy can reduce swelling and inflammation in our faces and reduce dark circles under the eye temporarily by constricting blood vessels. Cold therapy stimulates the cold receptors which stimulate blood flow to the epidermis, resulting in microcirculation in the area.
To experience the benefits of cold therapy in your next treatment at Maison Ito, try our new add-on, The Eyes Revival. This 15-minute treatment is a cooling and depuffing eye massage that uses a powerful combination of gua sha, crystals, and ice globes. The Eyes Revival provides instant facial rejuvenation, minimizes puffiness, and transforms the look of your under-eye area.
Are you ready to add cryotherapy to your daily routine this autumn to experience its many health benefits?
BY EMILIE CELINE & ANDREA L.
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