Ice Bathing - Exaggerated Hype or Egg-Laying Wooly Pig?

Richard Staudner
Richard Staudner

The Optimizer

There are few topics in the field of sports or health that have not already been covered in pages and pages.
has been reported in recent years. Much of it is warmed up, repackaged and presented as a
Wonder drug sold.

Circuit training became HIIT, natural movements became "functional movements".
and species-appropriate foods became smart foods. To name just a few examples.
One thing can be stated in any case: few of these new miracle drugs are really
new. Most of what is new to us comes from the lab. For cold and ice bathing, the
but in any case times not. It's almost impossible to get older. Ice has its effect for a long time
unfolded before we existed on earth, but had no therapeutic use at that time,
but simply wiped out the dinosaurs.
Called the ice age. But all joking aside.

Also, the use of cold, in whatever form, is definitely old hat and has been even
used therapeutically in our latitudes already 150 years ago. How it came
and why we are experiencing a small yet very interesting revival today, I would like to
tell you in this post.

About Kneipp and how the church did not want to admit it

Cold water therapy was already an effective treatment for the ancient Romans and Greeks.
Method to strengthen the body and mind and to toughen up. The Spartans ran at every
Weather, covered only with a toga, around to be more resilient for the next
Build battle.

The interesting story for us about ice bathing actually begins in the
German-speaking countries and was almost stopped by the church.
The Bavarian-Swabian priest Sebastian Kneipp had the idea back then of
own ailments with cold water. Kneipp was not only a priest, but
also a naturopath and, from the 1840s, immersed himself intensively in the teachings of the
Herbal medicine. A tuberculosis disease, however, made it difficult for the young Kneipp to
to create. By chance, he discovered the book of the physician Johann Siegmund Hahn, who had
wrote in it about the healing power of cold water.

Kneipp made his first experiments with cold water in the cool Danube. He felt
immediately felt fresher and more vital and thus repeated his intervention several times. Kneipp
supplemented the baths with half-baths and casts over parts of the body and limbs. But
always with cold water. He was actually able to improve his state of health quickly as a result

In the 1850s, Kneipp, by now completely cured, was able to complete his studies and
continued to experiment with the healing power of cold water. He took in the meantime
patients and was even able to free a woman from cholera.

Kneipp got more and more nicknames like cholera chaplain, water doctor, herbal priest
or hydrotherapist. Doctors and pharmacists who consider the healing of their fellow human beings as their
task could not gain much from this hustle and bustle.
They even took Kneipp to court, where he was acquitted.
Even the church could no longer look the other way. Kneipp still traded his prominence
further inconvenience and arranged for his transfer to a women's convent. But
even there he was able to cure a whole herd of cattle with his therapy from foot and mouth disease.
Get rid of foot and mouth disease.

Let's imagine this in today's world: the use of cold for infections and
Plagues. We would probably not end up at the stake right away, but great
Friendships are not made with such proposals either.

Over the years, Kneipp was then able to deepen his form of therapy, continue his
Helping fellow human beings with illnesses and also began writing non-fiction books about it.
Kneipp's idea grew into a holistic concept, which not only
cold therapy included, but also a suitable diet, the use of plants
and herbs, sufficient exercise and a balancing lifestyle.

A five-pillar concept, which can be found in similar form today in many other
systems reflects. But today we remain with the application of cold water.
In the 1880s appeared the book "My water cure" by Sebastian Kneipp and more and
more people sought his help for their sufferings.

An impressive story, which tells us the early origin of cold therapy or
called ice bathing in modern times, shows. But how did it go on then?

A Dutchman confuses medicine and also the rest of the world

The story of Dutchman Wim Hof does not begin so romantically. The one with his
shook the world with crazy experiments and set new physical and psychological standards.
set. Even though he was already fascinated by the cold in his youth, brought
the far too early passing of his wife set the young father on a new path in life. From
the former letter carrier will be the world-renowned extreme athlete Wim Hof aka "The

His own experiments with breathing techniques from yoga in combination with ice water
brought Wim Hof incredible powers, as he says himself. Colds and other
Diseases are a thing of the past according to him. Wim Hof experiments on himself
himself around and dares many extreme experiments.

Wim Hof ran only in shorts and with shoes on his feet on the Kilimanjaro, further ran
north of the Arctic Circle at temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees in Finland in five hours and 25
minutes a marathon. Again, only in shorts. On Mount Everest, a
Foot injury from climbing the summit. But at least he got to 7400 m.
Again, only with shorts and sandals. But Wim can handle heat just as well. Because
In 2011, he ran a marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking.

He claims that with his system he can influence his vegetative nervous system and
even control his heartbeat with it. Which is not possible according to conventional medicine.
Of course, the question arises to what extent the successes of Wim Hof are scientifically
are provable? There have even been several small studies that have tried to prove the stronger
resilience, which are built up by the Wim Hof system, to

For example, in one study of a small group of subjects in a
Clinic in The Hague concluded that the use of the "Wim Hof" system more resistant
against flu viruses. The comparison group without this training was thus
more susceptible to the pathogen.

Of course, these are not large-scale studies and certainly there is a lack here in the medicine
nor sufficient recognition. Let alone the will cold or breathing.
medical use. But with cold water it is difficult to make money, which is the
The main reason for the lack of sufficient studies is.

An Austrian in the eternal ice

Even though Wim Hof himself set a record in ice bathing, it was broken in the
broken several times in recent years. Yes there are actually several people who have
to this icy ordeal. In fact, one of these cool contemporaries is from Austria.
Josef Köberl from Lower Austria set a new world record in 2020, spending
a whopping 02:30:57 in a container full of ice cubes. "Longest Duration Full Body
Contact with Ice" is the name of this discipline. A few months later, this record is extended by
beaten a little more than 5 min by the Frenchman Romain Vandendorpe. But that
last word has not yet been spoken here. In Las Vegas, Josef Köberl would like to see the three
hours mark. This would allow him to reclaim the ice crown.

But what is cold actually supposed to help with?

The list of treatment options and benefits of cold therapy are endless.
According to alternative medicine practitioners and various books on the subject, cold can
Improve general condition, reduce susceptibility to infections, even in migraine and
Help allergies, cure skin diseases, support the musculoskeletal system, depression
alleviate and also help with sleep problems.

One thing must also be mentioned in any case: Not all cold is the same.
Cold water, a bath with ice cubes, a cold chamber or a vest that lasts the whole
cooling down the body or individual limbs, various interventions with
partially different areas of impact and results.

Getting mentally fitter, feeling more vital, reducing muscle soreness or pain,
Optimize blood pressure, boost the immune system or improve performance around sports.
These are just a few areas where cold therapy, according to my research, can be helpful

Explaining all this definitely needs more than just a blog, so I'll be
dedicate a focus on this topic in the blog and podcast.
I would like to get to the bottom of the cold and go through the individual areas of application
and answer all questions scientifically.

Furthermore I would like to give you a practical guide for your start into the cold.
deliver. In times of Corona and Co, a strong immune system is definitely valuable.
I will start with a few articles from the sports sector - here I have many readers after all
and listeners. But of course I will also answer the really exciting questions from the
Answer area health. How does ice bathing affect our musculoskeletal system,
cardiovascular, sleep, longevity or mental strength from?

Winter is coming - get ready 🙂

Your Performance Optimizer & Biohacker
Richard Staudner

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Richard Staudner

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