Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 59 total)
  • Wim Hof breathing and cold – snake oil?
  • Premier Icon menothim
    Free Member

    It seems you can’t go anywhere on the internet these days without someone being massively overexcited about Wim Hof, ice baths and breathing.

    I assume snake oil.

    But as you’ll see from this thread about my migraine woes I’m not desperate enough to try anything…

    Are there any devotees of Wim Hof in the forum? Is he/it the real deal? What difference has it made? How long before it stopped being ball shrinkingly awful for you to see benefits?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    I don’t do the ice baths but do carry on dipping in the local lochs and rivers throughout the year. I don’t do any breathing exercises. I can’t honestly say that I’ve discovered some long-term benefits, though there can be moments of extreme serenity while in the water and a definite rush afterwards.

    Premier Icon meikle_partans
    Free Member

    Cold water gives you a rush and a bit of a buzz. You don’t need Wim Hof to tell you how to do it though.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Full Member

    What have you got to lose? Except your balls into your chest.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    Meh, mostly macho woo innit. Take an ice bath, doing some breathing exercises, meditate, fair enough, dress it up as a belief system? Nah.

    Premier Icon steamtb
    Free Member

    There is an increasing amount of research interest in this area, sounds like there are several studies in the pipeline. An example of a paper looking specifically at Wim:

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29438845/

    Breathing literature is really interesting and there is a huge amount of research around that, head over to James Nestors website to start that journey of exploration 🙂

    I’m a massive fan of icy showers and cold water dips, I find it exhilarating. I have converted to nasal breathing too, which has cured my (past) annoyingly frequent nasal congestion, lots of benefits for me personally. I feel it’s really helped with exercise performance too, especially on long days, although clearly that might be me just getting fitter and healthier!

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    MrsIHN began open water swimming, and then cold water swimming, a couple of years ago. She goes right through winter, swimming cossie only, no wetsuit, in single digit temperature water sometimes.

    It has genuinely, definitely, had a positive impact on her mental health. There’s also some science behind it, to do with cortisol response.

    Premier Icon jimfrandisco
    Free Member

    I find a few deep breaths helps when getting into very cold water…but that’s as far as I’ve taken any breathing exercises.
    Just regularly getting into cold water is what builds up the ability to cope with longer in the cold.

    No idea on the snake oil aspect of it and haven’t looked into the proven (or not) physiological effects of cold water exposure, but it is a buzz and does have you feeling good all day, so that’s good enough for me.
    I started two years ago and my wife says she definitely noticed the difference in my mood. Some of that is the water but suspect it’s also, like biking, just seeing some like minded friends regularly though the pandemic.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    There’s research on the benefits of cold water swimming on dementia as well. I tried to find a link to actual research, but most hits are articles about the research.

    For example

    Premier Icon blue77
    Full Member

    I’ve been intrigued by some of the science behind Wim and his abilities. This video gives a balanced view of his methods https://youtu.be/D6EPuUdIC1E

    I think much of it comes down to him rather than any real science and others to achieve the same.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    So “Become Super Human” = build up a tolerance to cold water….

    Superman had it all wrong….

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Full Member

    Here in scandinavia having a dip in cold water is normal and they do it right through winter even when the sea freezes over. I have to say I do feel incredible afterwards.

    Premier Icon convert
    Full Member

    Like Scotroutes dipping in Lochs and rivers is part of my winter things to do. I’m definitely a bit of a dip in, control breathing and sort of meditate dipper. Hadn’t heard of Wim Hoff until after it was something I already did. Half my summer rides and walks seem to be focused on spotting new locations for the winter and returning to check them out in different river conditions.

    Cold water swimming or dipping definitely has a buzz to it and as said research around positive effect on mental health. Also never feel as good in my joints as I do the rest of the day after a dip. This sounds like bollox typed out, but for me it’s very at one with nature and elemental. A beautiful location ideally with zero man made in sight, just me or me and Mrs C, quiet and peaceful.

    My self imposed rules are quiet contemplative walk in, no one else there, no photos or social media tossery/posing, and definitely no ridiculous **** tow floats.

    Social media does seem to be responsible for promoting some needy oddball swim converts, who’s MO is too look-at-me-being-craaazzy for my tastes but it’s popularity is increasing and a lot of people get a lot from it, some of whom did not naturally fit into other outdoor pastimes which has to be a good thing.

    Premier Icon matthewlhome
    Free Member

    I’ve been cold water swimming for a few years, and doing the wim hog style breathing in and off for a bit less time.

    I came to the swimming as an extension of ‘normal’ open water swimming.

    Stumbled across the breathing method and it definitely makes me feel better. The cold and breath are two very different things.

    I would suggest trying the breathing excercises to see if they help. The Wim hog app is very helpful and available at no cost.

    There do seem to be an increasing number of ‘devotees’ and Wim hof ‘fanatics’ but if you ignore the Insta noise and try it out you may be pleasantly surprised.

    As a professional ‘scientist’ I did a lot of reading around it all as it can seem a bit daft.

    I would also recommend James Nestors book ‘breath’ – a science journalists investigation into a number of different breathing techniques etc. gives a good balanced insight into different methods.

    I would say that personally, I have found regular breathing exercises to be beneficial both when I was off work for several months with post viral fatigue, and more recently when I was experiencing severe anxiety.

    Key for me is to ignore the ‘hype’, but try it as there’s nothing to lose by doing the breathing.

    Cold is another thing though, now is not the time to start swimming in cold water, but again 30s of cold shower is worth a go.

    Edit: just seen the above post about social media. Have had a few discussions with friends about the worrying and incorrect info out there – also the whole doing it for the ‘gram culture. But then that’s everything now I suppose

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Full Member

    Everyday I have a 2 minute cold shower straight after my normal shower, turn it as cold as it will go. As mentioned above, lots of health benefits.

    Great from a circulation point of view as the cold kick starts the metabolism to work harder to maintain core temperature and sends blood to the skin.

    The cold water also shocks the nervous system creating endorphins and a heightened state of alertness.

    Apparently good for disease fighting, lots of research showing increased white blood cells and leukocytes in those regularly exposed to cold water.

    Can apparently help blood pressure too.

    I’m no scientist and happy to be debunked on the above, but I do know I feel great getting out ofbthe shower after I’ve had a couple of minutes of cold.

    Not sure about the breathing techniques, but whether it’s yoga, meditation or Chinese martial arts like Pak Mi, Qi Gong or Tai Chi, the benefits of controlled, structured breathing seem to be widely understood and accepted

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Full Member

    Col water swimming was touched on in Chris van Tulleken’s programme The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs as a possible treatment for depression.

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Full Member

    Meh, mostly macho woo innit

    Sounds like you’ve bothered to do some research there eh?

    Even the briefest trawl through credible online info indicates some fairly well accepted health benefits. But don’t let that stop you with your pithy, bro analysis..

    Premier Icon surfpunk
    Free Member

    The James Nestor book “Breath” is a good and entertaining read.
    I have used some of the techniques in the book to help with post Covid high heart rate when riding specifically climbing.
    My heart rate would go through the roof and I would be short of breath, less than a minute of controlled breathing would bring things back to a more normal level.
    Using the breathing techniques in the book helped get me back out on the bike and enjoying riding again.
    Placebo? Possibly but it helped me.

    Premier Icon avdave2
    Free Member

    The Life Scientific – Mike Tipton on how our bodies respond to extreme conditions – BBC Sounds

    This is worth listening to from someone who actually probably knows rather more than anyone else on the subject. His conclusion with current data on cold water swimming etc is there simply isn’t enough evidence to say it’s beneficial but if you are sensible about it it’s certainly not going to do you any harm. So even if it’s a placebo no reason not to benefit from it.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    As above, cold water has loads of physiological effects and has lots of research into them, so it’s not snake oil. I don’t personally care for it, I admit. I can do cold showers and icy water but it’s just somewhat uncomfortable. Heat also could have benefits, and I really do like a good Finnish 100C sauna, not the feeble ones you get in UK gyms. After that, a cold plunge (ideally in a lake in the forest) is amazing.

    I can’t comment on breathing though apart from it being generally a good idea from a health standpoint.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    Sounds like you’ve bothered to do some research there eh?

    Even the briefest trawl through credible online info indicates some fairly well accepted health benefits. But don’t let that stop you with your pithy, bro analysis..

    Dunno I mean I never disputed that frequent exposure to cold gets an individual used to dealing with the cold, breathing exercises can help with lots of things in life where you might want to control breath and/or oxygenation of your blood, and a bit of meditation is also beneficial…
    This appears to be mostly what he’s selling, right?

    And yes these are all self evidently positive things either in isolation or combined, all Wim seems to add is some vague quasi-spiritualist woo, some internet buzz and promises of superhuman abilities.

    Have I extensively researched his “method”?
    No I can’t be arsed and I’m not looking for any sort of guru to skim my disposable income, he has the whiff of snake oil about him IMO. But I’m sure there are some excellent unbiased studies ongoing as we speak, feel free to post links that I will not follow.

    Bro.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    I do not have a horse in this particular race. I’ve enjoyed icy dips, but I don’t do them religiously.

    However, I work in cardiovascular research, including looking at the role of inflammation in cardiovascular disease. So I know some things.

    Apparently good for disease fighting, lots of research showing increased white blood cells and leukocytes in those regularly exposed to cold water.

    This is the most laughable claim in all the psuedo-science that goes along with this. Is having more white blood cells a good thing? I mean, more is more, and infections are bad, right? I’ve seen this claim plastered in a number of places, without any thought as to whether it’s a good thing.

    Here’s something we do know: people with higher levels of inflammation have worse cardiovascular outcomes (a sugar-coated way of saying they die, of heart attacks and strokes). Here’s some refs that specifically look at white blood cells (other markers of inflammation E.g. hsCRP are probably used more widely these days):
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12446059/
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11067784/

    Here’s a graph:

    from here: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/154/8/758/131409
    (These papers are a bit old now, but they’re from some of the most famous/ cited cardiovascular researchers in the world. This is not small print. Anti-inflammatory drugs are big money in cardiovascular disease right now.)

    To be clear, I am not saying that swimming in extreme cold is a bad idea. I don’t know. I don’t know whether anyone has done any good quality trials – but I’d be willing to bet that none exist, because there will be a tremendous amount of confounding in any study of this, not least in the fact that people who do this sort of thing are necessarily quite active. But using a very basic understanding of a single observation (raised white cell count) that’s a surrogate marker of something going on inside a very complex system? A mugs’ game.

    Other things you said:

    The cold water also shocks the nervous system creating endorphins and a heightened state of alertness.

    Is that a good thing? Intuitively that sounds like a bad thing to me (stress, cortisol being bad for you in the long run) but I wouldn’t want to draw any conclusions.

    Great from a circulation point of view as the cold kick starts the metabolism to work harder to maintain core temperature and sends blood to the skin.

    Actually, I’d expect the opposite to be true. Your skin vasculature vasoconstricts in response to cold in order to preserve core temperature. Even if it were true, would that be a good thing? A bad thing? Who knows?!

    Premier Icon matthewlhome
    Free Member

    I’m not looking for any sort of guru to skim my disposable income

    No need to spend any money, all the info on how to try it can be found for free.

    The ice Bath is the media grabbing bit. The breathing may help op and is free to try.

    Researching around it, Wim Hof is a long time yoga student (50+ yrs) and has developed what seems to be an accessible method of breathing practice. This has been promoted a lot on socials etc and become ‘cool’ in the last couple of years.

    Premier Icon greentricky
    Free Member

    If you prefer a less woo based style of delivery, Andrew Huberman has some great podcasts that touch on a lot of this and all backed up with research (he’s a neuroscientist running a research lab at Stanford). The recommended protocols don’t land up being much different from Wim in some cases.

    Premier Icon greentricky
    Free Member

    Also just to add a note of caution, if you are thinking of trying some Wim style breathing and going in cold water alone rather than a shower, read up on Shallow Water Blackout and understand the mechanism that causes it

    Premier Icon grahamt1980
    Full Member

    Not sure if it does anything physiologically, but the cold water swimming makes me feel happy.
    The breathing I’m less convinced with. But as recommended above the James Nestor book ‘Breath’ is fantastic and not woo at all. A really fascinating book on why mouth breathing is bad and a lot of other things

    Premier Icon shermer75
    Free Member

    Well, Wikipedia says 4 people have died following his advice so maybe not entirely consequence free. But other than that I personally filed it under ‘works better the more you believe in it’

    Premier Icon spacemonkey
    Free Member

    My mate’s wife gave him tickets to a Wim Hof talk 2 years ago. He was mesmerised. The next day he woke up and took a cold shower and was hooked. He’s dabbled with a few other cold water activities but for some reason has maintained the shower thing and swears by it.

    Premier Icon topper
    Free Member

    I’ve dabbled in the breathing and when I do it before bed i feel it defo improves sleep. I’ve been finishing off my normal hot shower with a cold one for a year now. I do it without fail and I feel it really perks me up. I find it enlivening and really kicks a hangover.

    Premier Icon doordonot
    Free Member

    Having raynauds, this is one area of decompression and re-energisation that I’m happy to avoid. I admire those of you who can immerse yourself in these water temperatures.

    I have courted with the idea and acknowledge that it is a process of adaptation. I am an open water swimmer, and whilst I have ventured down to 15C in a wetsuit, any lower would take extremely fine, incremental and very long term adjustments, likely (I’m guessing) much slower than those without raynauds or other circulation issues. So I’m not ruling it out, and I don’t discount the benefits to those who can withstand the training and the cold. But for me, there are other less stressful ways, such as meditation or yoga, to achieve desired results.

    Premier Icon convert
    Full Member

    So I’m not ruling it out

    You of course know you body better than anyone, but one of my best friends in a channel swimmer (in fact he’s done the double) and he has a raynaud’s. Even in the summer he comes out of the water with alarmingly white fingers and toes. Keeps going summer and winter mind and has never owned a wetsuit.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Aye, if you check out my photos you’ll see that we all wear neoprene gloves and socks in cold water. That seems to do the trick for my wife who also suffers from Reynauds.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    Accidentally.

    I was living off-grid for a while (a few years) at around 45yrs old and the nearest available shower was an unheated farm-building and cold-water only. In Jan/February this at first made me hoot loudly and uncontrollably. Have to say on reflection that it did make me feel more regularly alive, energised, happy, fresh-minded than I had previously (in adult life). But there was a lot more to living and working outdoors than cold showers, so any positive mental gains were possibly/likely a result of more than the cold water shocks. Recommended, though. IANAD. I did read somewhere about extreme-cold making the heart work harder because of thicker blood, which is not ideal and could mean clots, strokes, etc. I’m glad now not to be camping long-term in winter. Wouldnt know about safety of regular cold showers but I personally noticed no ill-effects. YMMV

    Probably consult doc, look into heart-health if planning on doing cold stuff.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    I’ve been regularly having a cold minute or two after my normal shower a la Wim.

    I reckon I might live to age 130 if I keep at it ✊

    I always knew how good cold water immersion makes you feel mind, from kayaking.

    Anyone watch any of the recent celeb thing with him?
    Thought the celebs did pretty well actually. Quite impressed with their resolve on a few challenges. Found it quite a positive thing.

    Bit disappointed in the length of the bungee cord though… 🤔

    Premier Icon Joe
    Free Member

    Whatever you think of the woo science behind it, Wim has done some interesting stuff including his everest stunt. The whole leading a group up Kilmanjaro in a one-er was also impressive. I don’t think his ability to stay in cold water can be explained only by the fact that he practices – i also try to practice and have found myself with or close to hypothermia a number of times and had to warm myself up with a hot water bottle and sleeping bag.

    Love him or hate him – he definitely seems to have figured something out that others haven’t.

    I enjoy the cold water stuff and am quite a devotee of Wim. I’m no scientist, but it makes me feel calm and well.

    Premier Icon Dickyboy
    Full Member

    I reckon I might live to age 130 if I keep at it ✊

    My wife wants to live to 130 & I’m not allowed to die before her, so she bought me a silver charm inscribed “best before 2098” 😬

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    My wife wants to live to 130

    I’m not sure I could think of anything worse, unless you’re still active past 115 years!
    The cold water thing is interesting.
    I’ve been exposed to it a bit through many years of sailing and windsurfing throughout the year, but a cold shower/bath is quite different I expect.

    With the cost of heating water going through the roof this winter I suspect there will be a large number of unwilling converts!

    Premier Icon stripeysocks
    Free Member

    One open-water swimmer friend has had a couple of episodes of Transient Global Amnesia connected with it.
    Used to do ice baths and tbh quite fancy giving open water swimming a go, but definitely going to do it organized…

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Free Member

    but I’d be willing to bet that none exist, because there will be a tremendous amount of confounding in any study of this, not least in the fact that people who do this sort of thing are necessarily quite active.

    This is the key thing for me, the cross-over between people who are naturally interested in the effects of diet/exercise and people who might consider pursuing cold water immersion for its health and wellbeing benefits must be significant.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Actually, my experience locally is that there are a lot of folk who aren’t into physical exercise and who have become very regular swimmers. In particular, it’s quite amazing that so many obese ladies have embraced the open water vibe.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000qnb4/the-merthyr-mermaid

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