I have a daily hot shower and at the end switch it to cold just like James Bond in the Ian Fleming novels (i); interestingly my CVS card number was 007 when I started showering like this (it has since changed)! My Dad was Scottish and I remember him describing it as a “Scottish Shower”. Of course there is a long, long history of cold water being used for health; use by Greeks, Spartans, Finns, Native Americans, Russians and more are all well documented.
It was the 1820s when the term ‘hydrotherapy’ got coined in Germany by farmer Vincenz Priessnitz. He claimed to cure pretty well everything including broken bones and erectile problems and saw hundreds flock to him including royalty. Popularity of hydrotherapy declined in the twentieth century but is seeing a bit of a renaissance.
|Getting ready for ice bath at Trew Fields|
For me it all started at Trew Fields 2018. I joined others for an ice bath organised by folks who work with ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof; you can see a short film here taken at Trew Fields (ii). I watched with some nervousness, even fear, as the pool was filled with bag after bag of ice.
The session then started with us lying down on the ground and learning a breathing technique that involves thoroughly inhaling and exhaling. It has been described by Wim Hof as ‘controlled hyperventilation or power breathing’. You can see how that is done here (iii).
|Getting out of ice bath|
One of the tough things for me, about an ice bath (or cold shower) is this Wim Hof breathing. In the ice bath I found myself initially almost hyperventilating from the shock and I was sure I wasn’t going to stay for two minutes. Strangely after thirty to forty seconds my body relaxed, my breathing became steady and I didn’t seem to feel the cold in the same way and when it came to get out I felt I could have stayed longer. Someone said, 'adapt to the cold don’t fight it'. That was good advice. The right mindset is crucial so that you can hear your inner voice but also know that the cold will not harm but can make things better.
|Jo Lawrance cartoon|