What Happens to Your Body from Being Doused with Cold Water

Why is an ice shower useful and how to get used to it

The benefits of contrast douches and, in particular, cold showers have long been confirmed and documented: hydrotherapy helps with high pressure, pain, circulatory problems, and also stimulates the vagus nerve, improving the work of which you will become not only physically healthier, but also happier. Cold water is ideal for general hardening, which is important today, but the habituation process must be gentle and gradual so that the body learns to perceive the ice storm as a routine and useful procedure.

However, no matter how much you read about the benefits of cold douches, those who have not learned the benefits of health-improving asceticism shiver from just thinking about it. The effect of cold showers is personally familiar to me first hand – every time I soak up under a warming shower, I douse my feet with cold water, because I have heard that a contrast shower is useful for general tone and strengthening the veins. But one thing is legs, a priori hardy objects, and another is the whole body, including the head!


To begin with, it is worth delving into the theory, since there are a lot of worthy sources. For example, in the new book “Healing by Nature: A Medical Guide to Scientific Naturopathy,” Professor Andreas Michalsen, head physician at the Berlin clinic “Immanuel”, describes in detail the manner of a cold shower, practiced daily: fingers up to the groin and go down from the inside; then I repeat the procedure with my left leg. ” Following a similar algorithm, the professor showers his hands, then his face, chest, back, honestly admitting that the most difficult thing is to direct the shower to the back and genitals, although the chilling extreme is more than compensated for by the immediate “invigorating and refreshing effect.”

On days when he feels too tired or not ready for radical measures, the doctor adheres to a short procedure, pouring cold water on only his legs – from below and at least to the knees, which, among other things, helps with headaches. The Berlin naturopath finally bribed me with wetting my feet, because I managed to master this part of the procedure. Inspired by my wellness literacy, I embarked on an experiment, deciding that in three weeks, I would, as expected, internalize the habit or turn into an unfeeling block of ice.

My approach differs little from Michalsen’s sequence. Every time I finish taking a shower, I switch the tap completely to cold water and gently wet my feet. Then I climb up the right leg – and further, as the doctor described. Sometimes, when I want special sensations, having reached my face, I raise the shower higher and pour water right on the top of my head. Everything happens quickly – 30-40 seconds at most, and I’m not going to increase the time, I don’t need records. While pouring, I always squeal or even scream, I can just puff, repeat “damn it” or just laugh – it happens by itself, try it and you will understand.

It’s a shock at first, why lie, and even after three weeks the process will not be pleasant. But the pleasure lies not in the procedure, but in the very “immediate effect” mentioned by the doctor. It feels like scalding cold water is flushing and restarting the system, accompanying the process with an internal fireworks of endorphins. Sounds like a powerful and fast version of what it feels like after a good workout. And by the way, I recommend trying a double effect: sport and after – a contrast shower, it’s just some kind of holiday.


So, for inspiration, let’s once again clarify how dousing with cold water is useful – using a shower or dropping a full bucket on your head.

1. Strengthens the immune system

Regular cold showers stimulate metabolic rate and white blood cell production, which helps fight disease, as well as increases the activity of the lymphatic system, which helps to remove waste from cells and reduce the risk of infections. To achieve a therapeutic effect, extreme ice is not necessary – it is enough to regularly take a shower at a temperature of about 20 degrees for 2-3 minutes.

2. Improves mood

The flow of cold water stimulates the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that precedes adrenaline, which in turn increases the flow of energy to the muscles and improves brain activity. Research also confirms that exposure to low temperatures strengthens the nervous system by lowering uric acid levels and increasing the production of glutathione, a tripeptide responsible for rebuilding antioxidants.

3. Activates weight loss

Body fat is conventionally divided into two categories: brown and white. The first is considered “good” because it is responsible for heat exchange and protects the internal organs.