Ice therapy: The latest wellness mania

It has been around for years, but its presentation in the Netflix series “Goop Lab” and with the approval of Gwyneth Paltrow, eventually brought the method to fame. In the second chapter of this documentary, which explores alternative treatments for well-being, the story of Wim Hoffa Dutch extreme athlete capable of enduring freezing temperatures thanks to breathing and this postulates that we do strengthens the immune system d relieves the symptoms of various diseases, among other benefits. This practice, known as The Wim Hoff Methodgrew in popularity in 2020, when the series premiered and global quarantine plunged the world in search of ways to strengthen your health.

Return to the natural state

Known as the “ice man” Wim Hoff has won 26 Guinness World Records with feats like running a half marathon in arctic circle or lock in an ice container for two hours. His patented method (and not without controversy) is presented as a way to “keep your body and mind in their optimal natural state” and states that for much of our history the environment has been responsible for generating beneficial stress, living at low temperatures, between icy winds and hungry wolves, and with the mind always ready and focused to defend itself. Today, modern life, much more comfortable and easy, eliminates these dangers, as well as our natural state of vigilance and clarity. As a result, he argues that our natural defenses are less alert, so we get sick, stressed, suffer from insomnia and live without energy.

Suggestion? Three pillars that reinforce each other: breathing techniques, training for mental focus and gradual exposure to cold. “This method is characterized by its efficiency and simplicity and allows us to reconnect with nature. “It improves our biology because we have a lot of powerful tools and the wisdom of our body is asleep,” he said. Lorena Lorenzocertified instructor from Wim Hoff and the only one in South America along with Marianela Ducayour partner and partner.

Each of the pillars can be made separately, but together they promise the greatest benefits. The first is a type of breathing that works with the diaphragm, so it is recommended to do it on an empty stomach. The goal is to generate a concentration that allows the body to be controlled even in the most extreme conditions. “The effects are related to alkalizing the blood and strengthening the immune system. At the same time, intermittent hypoxia trains the cardiovascular system. illustrates Duke.

ice therapy

The second pillar is exposure to cold, which can be done with freezing showers, immersion in ice pools or directly in frozen lakes, as often happens. Wim Hoff. “It has been proven that by immersing yourself in ice for two to three minutes, the benefits continue to work in our body for six days. “Once a week is an ideal regularity.” Lorenzo points out. For those who prefer cold showers, the repetition can be daily.

The last pillar is commitment. The above tools point to techniques that require patience and dedication, with focus and mental determination being the last mile. Well, the idea is to install a specific precise short-term stress that enhances the adaptive power of the body. “Wim says fitness is 100% mental because the body doesn’t go where the mind doesn’t,” Duka said.

in the balance

a long time ago cryotherapy It is used by athletes to regenerate their muscles and joints after training and matches. “This is another method of physiotherapy, such as heat, magnetism and ultrasound,” he describes. Alejandro Halaburda, kinesiologist and physiotherapist at Boreal Salud. In this context, the application of ice or cold is associated with a reduction in inflammation, as it causes vasoconstriction, which prevents more blood from reaching the area. It can be used for injuries or also to regenerate and fight fatigue. In cases where it is administered by immersion in ice water, the specialist does not recommend exceeding 15/20 minutes, always taking into account the patient’s tolerance.


Asked about this version of contact with ice, Halaburda is cautious. “It is important to be careful with the time of immersion, because the last stage of cold is burning. It can go to the extreme of burning tissue or generate an irreversible process in tendons or muscles, ”he said. Both in this process and in traditional cryotherapy, he claims that it is not recommended for open wounds, heart patients, elderly people with previous illnesses or a history of osteoarthritis.

For his part, Dr. Florence Daphne Raele (@, who describes herself as a functional and integrative doctor, wanted to try Wim Hoff’s method in 2021 after studying traditional cryotherapy a few years ago. Since then, he has recommended it to anyone who wants to experience something new and train their mind, as well as improve their rest, blood circulation and focus. “When a person dives in the ice, which is a hormonal stressor (N. de la R. something that in high doses is dangerous, but in small quantities is useful), the nervous system is decompensated and the sympathetic is stimulated. To regulate this, one must control breathing a lot and have an idea of ​​how it can control the nervous system. This is the most powerful thing in practice, apart from the benefits, “he said. In this way, he began to create hormonal retreats “to find out what are those useful stressors that we need in their proper measure.”

She understands that the contraindications are few and similar to those convicted by Halaburda, but that the biggest problem is the fear that people feel from the cold, given the huge lack of habituation to modern life. “That’s why breathing is key, because it acclimatizes the body. “After the first minute, the body gets used to it and relaxes, perhaps stopping feeling the cold or not suffering so much,” he said.

Other benefits attributed to this practice include increasing energy, increasing athletic performance, and relieving the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. And although there may be sessions with professional instructors at the end of the research tour, the journey can begin at home: finishing showers with 15 seconds of cold water is the first step they recommend. Lorenzo and Duca. “Your focus should be on your breath, exhaling for as long as you can,” they say. In addition, they recommend breathing lessons in the canal of YouTube the Wim Hof, as well as its application and access to scientific articles that study the method. “It’s accessible to everyone,” they encourage. In any case, it is advisable to consult your doctor before trying it.

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