For the past several months I've been experimenting with cold and heat therapies. Primarily, hot baths, dry saunas, and cold showers. In particular, taking a cold shower can have massive physiological and mental benefits including increased alertness, boosted metabolism, improved circulation/immunity and decreased stress levels. Yes, it's not necessarily pleasant, but that's part of the very reason it's effective. I have personally found tremendous benefit. An easy way to "break the ice" and try them out is by taking a very hot shower for 5:00 and then turning the faucet as cold as you can tolerate for 0:30-2:00. The goal here is not to hyperventilate but to control your breathing with deep breaths, running the water primarily on your upper back and neck area. Read this short article for a quick primer: Benefits of Cold Showers.
Cold Showers are Only the Beginning...
Continuing the theme of this week's Training Tip, Dutchman Wim Hof, aka The Iceman, believes that "the cold is your warm friend!" He's a perfected a deep breathing technique and combines that with extreme cold exposure to improve his body, mind, and soul in myriad ways. Using these techniques to control his autonomic nervous system (breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation), he's accomplished feats like the "World's Longest Ice Bath" (Guinness World Record), longest underwater free-swim beneath ice, and climbing to 22,000' on Mt. Everest dressed only in his shorts. I love how insane this guy is but he believes that every one of us can do what he's done by using the cold and our breath.You've got to watch this 3-minute video on his Wim Hof Method.
If you want to learn more, here's a 40-minute documentary on his methods that I found very intriguing: Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman