The Wim Hof Method - Cold Water Immersion
The popularity of open water swimming has skyrocketed recently and one name has cropped up again, again when talking about cold water immersion: Wim Hof - the original iceman. His simple, but effective, method for coping with unbearably cold conditions has been adopted by thousands of followers across the world.
Who is Wim Hof?
Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete/adventurer who holds over twenty Guinness World records. His incredible feats of endurance include running a half marathon barefoot above the arctic circle and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in only a pair of shorts! Wim wasn’t born with this remarkable resilience to the cold, his method for enduring extreme conditions is something he developed to cope with a tragic event. After sadly losing his wife at a young age, Wim struggled with depression. Wim found that his grief could be managed by plunging into freezing water. By doing extensive training to control his breathing and enduring extremely cold temperatures, he managed to get his energy back and much, much more.
Ever since then Wim has been sharing these techniques to train the body and mind as the Wim Hof Method. The benefits include boosting your immune system, giving you more energy, helping you sleep better, increasing athletic performance and recovery, heightened focus and the ability to reduce stress.
Despite the icy premise, these techniques have become red hot in celebrity circles! Some of the famous followers that have adopted the Wim Hof Method include Russell Brand, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carey and the Body Coach Joe Wicks.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The Wim Hof Method is founded on three pillars - breathing, cold therapy and commitment.
Breathing is something we do every second of every day, Wim Hof recognises there is tremendous potential in our breathing and the specialised technique of his method helps to unlock this. Sometimes referred to as ‘controlled hyperventilation’, these breathing exercises have been scientifically proven to lead to more control and resilience in our everyday lives.
Cold therapy involves exposing yourself to the cold through ice baths and cold showers. By easing your body into the cold water one limb at a time, the body and blood flow can adapt to the temperature drop. Slowing building up your tolerance and achieving proper exposure to the cold has been proven to have a huge number of health benefits, including reduced inflammation that helps fortify the immune system, balancing hormone levels, improving sleep quality and producing endorphins - chemicals in the brain that help elevate your mood.
The third pillar, commitment, is what binds breathing and cold therapy together. To be fully mastered both require dedication and patience. Wim Hof believes exercises in his program can train your brain to increase self-control and willpower, helping to reduce stress and improve focus.
How do I start the Wim Hof Method?
Wim Hof’s official website has details of how you can learn the Wim Hof Method, find qualified teachers in your area and advice on how to practice the techniques on the go.
What equipment will I need for the Wim Hof Method?
If you are heading outdoors for the cold therapy pillar of the Wim Hof Method there are some key bits of kit that help you make the most of your experience and stay safe.
- Swimming gear (trunks, swimsuit etc.)
- dryrobe® Advance change robe
- Warm drink
- A blanket and warm socks
After finishing a cold water therapy session it is important to rewarm as quickly as possible. As soon as you get out of the water your body temperature can plummet rapidly, this is often referred to as the ‘after drop’. Failure to rewarm properly can hamper your recovery, but it can also be dangerous, potentially leading to hypothermia.
Pulling a super-warm dryrobe® Advance on and changing out of wet layers as soon as you get out of the cold water helps you thermoregulate and get your core temperature back up to where it needs to be.