Cold therapy is one of the largest growing trends in the wellness sphere with hundreds of new followers and evangelists of the Wim Hof Method popping up every day. But what is cold therapy? Why should you try it? And why does Wim Hof think it’s the best thing since sliced bread?! Read on to find out all you need to know about Cold Therapy and the Wim Hof Method.
What Is Cold Therapy?
Cold therapy is a practice-based around the idea that exposing our bodies to extremely cold temperatures can help to boost our immune system, improve body and muscle repair and speed up our metabolism.
There are various forms of cold therapy but the most common has been brought to the world by Dutchman, Wim Hof aka The Iceman. Wim Hof has created a practice known as The Wim Hof Method (WHM) which uses cold temperatures, breathing techniques and commitment to produce long-term health benefits.
Wim Hof believes that our bodies are naturally capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and wild environments but that in the Western world we have artificially controlled our surrounding temperatures to make us comfortable rather than capable. He feels that we have forgotten how to control our inner power and fire which means that we find it much more difficult to use the ‘mind over matter’ mantra to adapt to difficult situations.
The Wim Hof Method uses exposure to the cold (cold showers, ice baths, snow meditation) in addition to controlled breathing techniques (similar to that during hyperventilation but in a controlled manner) to increase our tolerance to low temperatures and connect to our power within.
Who is Wim Hof?
Wim Hof is an incredible, slightly unpredictable, Dutch extreme athlete who uses his mind and body in extraordinary ways and who wants to teach us how we can use ours like that too. Hof is 60 years old but his physique, mindset and impressive 18 Guinness World Records are a clear reminder that age is but a number!
Many of the things that have helped make Wim Hof famous are his wild challenges such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest in shorts, running a half marathon in the Arctic barefoot, and standing in an ice-filled container for more than 112 minutes! To complete these seemingly insane challenges, Hof uses his method to control his own body temperature and immune system by breathing, so that he is unaffected by the external cold. He is able to maintain his body temperature at around 37 degrees regardless of his exterior circumstances and he believes that he can teach you how to do the same.
Wim Hof’s motto is: “What I am capable of, everybody can learn” and his band of bold followers seem to believe him!
Why Is Cold Therapy Good For Us?
So why is Wim Hof raving about cold therapy and why are so many people getting on board? Well, it seems that cold therapy has been linked to numerous health benefits including a faster metabolism, improved quality of sleep, improved immune response and perhaps most importantly, a reduction of inflammation which is thought to be the root cause of many illnesses and diseases we see in society today.
Professional athletes have been using ice baths for decades so it may not be surprising to hear that cold therapy speeds up recovery, but the fact that it also helps reduce stress, increases focus and determination, enhances creativity and can help with mental health issues goes to show what a cure-all it could be!
Not only this, but Wim Hof has also shown the phenomenal effects it can have in relation to fighting illness. Hof, and later a group of medical trial participants, were able to be injected with endotoxin, before using the Wim Hof Method to control their body’s reaction to the bacteria. The participants who used the WHM showed a stronger immune response and portrayed fewer symptoms connected to the pathogen than the participants who did not practice his method.
How Can I Practice Cold Therapy Or The Wim Hof Method?
There are various ways you can practice cold therapy, from expensive cryochambers which are a favourite among celebrities, to simple solutions such as taking a cold shower every morning. This is a good place to start as it is free, easy and you are in control. It is recommended that you read or watch an informative guide to The Wim Hof Method before trying the cold shower practice, to ensure you are breathing correctly throughout and that you reap the benefits of the practice.
If you want a more in-depth introduction to cold therapy, you could go on a Wim Hof Experience which will give you the chance to learn more about the method and to discover your true potential. These experiences not only give you theoretical information but also offer the opportunity to try an ice bath and breathing techniques IRL.
For those who are already Wim Hof converts, an expedition may be more up your street! These are more extreme challenges, with outdoor hikes, expert training and immersive sessions to help take your inner exploration to the next level!
Other activities you can do once you’ve mastered the Wim Hof breathing techniques is to sit outside in the snow in your swimwear, dive into a freezing cold lake or sea, or do Snow-ga – yoga in the snow!
N.B. Please always practice the Wim Hof Method when you are in the presence of someone else in case you pass out from the breathing or exposure to the cold. Please also build-up to the more extreme challenges slowly, starting with a few seconds in a cold shower and working your way up to 30-40 seconds at a time.
If you want to learn more about Cold Therapy and the Wim Hof Method, check out episode two of The Goop Lab on Netflix.
What do you think about Cold Therapy? Are you going to give it a go? Or will you just stick to sitting in a scarf and jumper with the heating on? Let us know in the comments below!