Hey there, fellow wild swimmers and nature enthusiasts! Buckle up, because I'm about to take you on a journey into the icy waters of my personal pain management saga. Grab your swimsuit, maybe a towel that doubles as a superhero cape, and let's dive into the world of cold water immersion. Because who needs tropical beaches when you can find your solace in lakes, rivers, and the good ol' sea, right?
So, here's the deal: I've got this pesky little companion called endometriosis, and boy, does it come with a lot of baggage. Chronic pain? Check. Uninvited guests in my pelvis? Double check. But amidst this whirlwind of discomfort, I've discovered a secret weapon: cold water immersion. Yeah, you heard me right - I'm talking about the delightful experience of dipping into the freezing embrace of lakes, rivers, and oceans all year round.
Now, you might be wondering, "What is wrong with her?? Why would anyone willingly jump into icy waters when they could be curled up in a heated blanket fortress?" Well, there's something strangely magical about cold water immersion that has become my go-to pain management strategy. I have long been a wild swimming lover, and that journey has brought me through many experiences which have helped heal my mind and body.
But what is the science of it? Recent studies on swimmers who follow the Wimhof Method, have proven that cold exposure can reduce pain perception caused by immersion in cold or ice water.
My experience has been a testament to that research. Despite the many doctors and hospital appointments, I can pinpoint the one thing that reduces my pain more than anything else (spoiler alert, it's not drugs or hormone therapy!). As I take the plunge, the cold water acts like a calming antidote for the whole of my unruly nervous system. Suddenly, it's like someone pressed the "mute" button on my pain receptors, and I'm left with a blissful moment of stillness.
But, it gets better. The relief doesn't just stop when I'm prancing around like a mermaid. It keeps the chronic pain at bay for an hour or so post-swim. It's like a mini vacation from the constant presence of that annoying little (and a lot of the time not-so-little) niggle of pain that follows me around.
Don't get me wrong, my hot water bottle is a constant companion when I am at home during the evening - yes, I have considered installing a cold water plunge pool in my house - but I can live with the moments away from the cold water when the switch between the two temperatures, from cold to hot wonderfully soothes my body.
And let's not forget the mental health perks. Oh, how I adore my outdoor therapy sessions! The wind in my hair, the mist on my face, and the glorious sensation of conquering nature's ice bucket challenge – it's a holistic reset button. Plus, being out in the elements makes me feel like a hardcore adventurer, a warrior battling the odds (and the cold) while simultaneously getting a break from the relentless pain. And I do, of course, always snuggle up in one of our gorgeous, cosy sweatshirts post-swim to regulate my body temperature after a dip.
I know, I know, you're probably thinking, "Isn't this just some fancy name for torturing yourself in the name of pain relief?" But trust me, it's more like a quirky dance with discomfort, a daring tango that somehow manages to make me feel alive in ways I never expected.
Plus, now is the perfect time to explore how cold water can work for you. As the seasons change, our September and October sea temperatures tend to continue warming (whilst still remaining cold enough to benefit from the dip) and it's the ideal time to start your year-round swimming journey. Check out our handy guide on How to Love Wild Swimming: Winter Wild Swimming Tips for inspo!
So there you have it, my fellow pain warriors and fellow lovers of all things wild and frigid. Cold water immersion, whether you call it cold water swimming, wild swimming, or a rendezvous with the Wimhof method, has become my personal ally in this chronicle of pain management.
So if you find yourself struggling with pain or discomfort, why not give it a shot? Who knows, you might just find a whole new world of relief and refreshing adventures waiting for you!