Cold-immersion therapy: Types, effectiveness, safety of people in cold exposure
All about types of cold-immersion therapy, different ways people can undergo cold exposure and how do these methods compare in terms of effectiveness and safety
Cold-immersion therapy, also known as cold therapy or cryotherapy, involves exposing the body to cold temperatures to elicit a range of physiological responses. There are several different methods that people can use to undergo cold exposure, each with its own unique health benefits and risks.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Narendra Shetty, Chief Wellness Officer at Kshemavana, revealed the different types of cold-immersion therapy through which people can undergo cold exposure -
- Cold showers: Taking a cold shower involves standing under a shower head that dispenses water at a temperature of 60°F or lower. Cold showers can help to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and boost energy levels. They are generally safe for most people, but those with certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud's disease, should avoid them.
- Ice baths: An ice bath involves immersing the body in a tub of cold water that is between 50°F and 59°F, often with added ice cubes. Ice baths can help to reduce muscle soreness, improve recovery, and enhance immune function. However, they can also be uncomfortable and pose a risk of hypothermia if not properly monitored.
- Cryotherapy chambers: Cryotherapy chambers are large, walk-in chambers that use liquid nitrogen or electric cooling systems to lower the air temperature to as low as -166°F. Cryotherapy can provide many of the same benefits as other forms of cold exposure, but it may also carry a greater risk of frostbite and other cold-related injuries.
- Localised cold exposure: Some people choose to target specific areas of their body with cold therapy, such as using ice packs or cold compresses on sore muscles or joints. This method is generally safe and can be effective for reducing pain and inflammation in specific areas.
Talking about their effectiveness and safety, Dr Narendra Shetty highlighted, “In terms of effectiveness, all forms of cold exposure have been shown to elicit a range of physiological responses, including increased circulation, reduced inflammation, and improved immune function. However, the extent of these benefits may vary depending on the type and duration of cold exposure. When it comes to safety, all forms of cold exposure carry some degree of risk, particularly if not properly monitored. However, most people can safely undergo cold therapy if they start slowly and gradually increase their exposure over time. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new form of cold therapy, especially if you have a history of medical conditions such as Raynaud's disease, diabetes, or heart problems.”