Run Hot And Cold

A quick, easy and practical hack to Wim Hof’s anti-aging immunity-reinforcing ice bathing
Photo credits: photoshoot for one of my shoe campaigns for MARSKINRYYPPY.
May 2, 2024

You might have heard of “Iceman” Wim Hof, who at 68 years of age has achieved formidable feats of the human body. He’s held himself in ice water for up to two entire hours, maintaining his body temperature within normal range. He’s climbed Mount Everest shirtless, run a marathon in the desert barefoot without so much as a sip of water, and remained undisturbed by endotoxins (fever-causing agents) injected into his body in a science experiment. 

Wim is also known as a pioneer of his self-devised life-altering techniques of breathing and ice bathing which he calls the Wim Hof Method. Applying the techniques, according to him, can allow the human body to become more resilient under physical and emotional stress. For more knowledge about his methods, check out the Wim Hof Method

One of the main practices of his Method is routinely taking an ice bath. If you are anything like me—someone who prioritizes least time and effort for maximum results and comfort—I guarantee you, I’ve got a technique that’s different and, for me, infinitely more preferable: contrast showers. They are an easy, effective way to reap the benefits of an ice bath without the cringe. They can boost our immune system and circulation to a significant degree and take only a few minutes of our bathing time (no trekking buckets of ice from freezer to bathroom necessary). 

Contrast showering is basically the act of “shocking” the body by switching from hot water to cold water and back again. The abrupt burst of cold water will cause blood to rush to your vital organs, activating your parasympathetic nervous system and loading you with a massive boost of energy. The sudden shock of the cold water provokes a kind of stress response, training our adrenal glands to handle stress more efficiently. Furthermore, the cold water invites a very welcome release of fabulous endorphins and revs up both our metabolism and our circulation alike. I like.

Contrast showers also instigate the same benefits you get from a gentle workout. And here’s the best part: as opposed to a workout, contrast showers stimulate without stressing our joints. No need to move a single muscle! I double like.

 

Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of the benefits of taking a contrast shower:

  1. IT IMPROVES MOOD 

By giving a much appreciated jolt of blood flow to our brain, it is possible that contrast showers also diminish depression and boost mood. Blasts of cold help increase levels of endorphins, which in turn generate a release of noradrenaline (or norepinephrine). Endorphins, as you surely know, offer a pain-quelling effect and make us feel good. The whoosh of energy from fresh oxygen and nutrient flow to our brain and other organs makes alertness go up and gloominess go down.

  1. IT AIDS IN WEIGHT LOSS

Although there is insufficient scientific evidence, there have been countless reports touting contrast showers as a weight loss aid. As opposed to white fat which forms when calories are consumed in excess, brown fat generates fuel by burning white fat. Brown fat is the fat that helps keep our bodies warm. By shocking our bodies with cold water, our brown fat is stimulated to burn our white fat. Isn’t it ironic, burning fat with fat? Such is the irony of life, right Alanis?

  1. IT SUPPORTS OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM 

A contrast shower is your disease-fighting cell-recruiter. The temperature contrast improves our number of white blood cells called monocytes, which help prevent us from catching colds and flu (a proven 30% lower susceptibility). Extreme cold water exposure also drives greater production of leukocytes to help our bodies extinguish invading pathogens and fungal infections. Contrast showers can fight Candida yeast overgrowth by arming the immune system to kill off those nasty pathogenic yeasts. In short, this method helps fortify our defense system and safeguards our microbiome, which is home to 80% of our immune cells. 

  1. IT REDUCES MUSCLE SORENESS 

Elite athletes use contrast showers to prevent exercise-related muscle soreness. Cold water restricts blood flow, helping reduce inflammation and injury. Heat, in contrast, widens our blood vessels, thus stimulating greater blood flow. So alternating between the extreme temperatures drives massive blood flow to muscle tissues, helping to keep them vital and juicy. For more on how to love on our muscles more—>The Closest Thing to The Fountain of Youth

  1. IT SUPPORTS CIRCULATION 

Since our bodies are trying to maintain their natural base temperature, contrast showers make our circulation act quicker, more effectively. Improved circulation translates to healing faster and thus benefits longevity. When our circulation is sluggish, toxins linger longer within the body, and may even be reabsorbed into our tissues. Oh Heavens, no!

 

How to take a Contrast Shower

Once you’ve finished showering as you normally do, switch to a more intense heat, minding of course your tolerance. Maintain heat for 1-2 minutes, then switch to as cold a temperature as your shower permits for 1 minute. Repeat one, two or as many times as you fancy, making sure to always finish with cold

 

TWO PERSONAL TIPS:

1. When running the cold water make sure to include your face. Let’s call it the “shower face-lift.” It’s the perfect opportunity to tighten and invigorate the skin on our faces.

2. For those of you who are cold-averse like me, I end the shower by running hot water just on my feet (that way I “have it my way”) 😉

 

[Key 🔑tip: If you don’t already have a water system that filters out the chloramine, lead, fluoride and god knows what other toxicities lurking in your city’s tap water, unlock your vital health with something so basic as great quality water. DO inform yourself of the quality of your home’s general and drinking water. If anything less than ideal, look into changing your ENTIRE HOME WATER SYSTEM. This can range anywhere from $2500-15,000 depending on home size and filtering company. A cheap option is using filtered shower or faucet heads.

I was shocked to find out our home’s water had a high level of chloramine. This chemical is a bond between chlorine—a scientifically-proven carcinogenic used to kill bacteria in water—and ammonia, used to make chlorine’s effect as disinfectant stronger and last longer. Chloramine can cause a slew of health issues, hair loss and premature wrinkles for starters. The list is quite long but others may include skin outbreaks, extreme fatigue, and stomach and gut disturbances. Thanks but no thanks, city gov.]

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