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  #1  
Old 02-22-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Post Cold water habituation and acclimatization

The thread about wearing a wetsuit morphed into discussing cold water habituation and acclimatization, and not so much more about wetsuits, so I thought I would start a new thread to discuss this topic.

One of my goals is to be able to swim in open water year round, weather permitting, without having to use a wetsuit. I have read up on articles and emailed a few folks who have become acclimatized to cold water. It seems as if the consensus is to start taking cold showers routinely, yet I have found that to be extremely difficult because of the pulsation of the water drops. It feels like being stung by a swarm of bees. The odd part is that I can get my head wet with no issue, but the rest of my body cannot tolerate the shower. The other day, I decided to try a cold bath to see if the constant exposure was less intense as the pulsating water drops, and to my surprise, I was correct. I will share my journey as I progress toward strictly taking moderate length cold baths and showers. Maybe others will be willing to share their experiences as well.
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2016
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Hi Michael,

First of all, just because you are so fortunate to have a river behind your house, you MUST become a cold water warrior!

How about your cold bath, were you fully immersed or? And what temperature was it? In my only cold bath after lots of cold showers I only got immersed up to the belly and stayed 10 minutes, just splashing some water on the chest and shoulders sometimes. I don't know the temperature though, still have to buy a water thermometer. Actually I didn't find harder than a cold shower.

As for the showers, since I started (end of November) I can report quite good improvements. Guess I built some brown fat, because after a few seconds I feel at ease with cold water on neck, back and chest (ie where the most of brown fat is supposed to be). I feel like I can stay quite long with cold water flowing on back and/or chest. Conversely I feel the cold more on shoulders and head, but fortunately we can always easily cover our head in open water.

Salvo
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Old 02-24-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
How about your cold bath, were you fully immersed or? And what temperature was it? In my only cold bath after lots of cold showers I only got immersed up to the belly and stayed 10 minutes, just splashing some water on the chest and shoulders sometimes. I don't know the temperature though, still have to buy a water thermometer. Actually I didn't find harder than a cold shower.
Salvo
Salvo,

I am not quite sure of the exact temperature because my thermometer will not even give a reading, even though it is a digital thermometer. Yesterday, I turned on the faucet just enough where water came out, to get the coldest water possible. I sat in the water for about 5 minutes, then reclined back to where with my upper body only my head was out of the water - which meant my lower legs and feet were up out of the water during that period. I was in that position for about 5 minutes as well; and the initial few seconds were intense, especially around my neck, but the shock went away as much as it was cold the whole time. I had ear plugs and goggles on the floor next to the tub, just in case I thought I would get the guts to fully immerse. I did not really plan on going that far, but having them there was just in case; and then I thought to myself that I would just go for it since I had them next to the tub, so I put my ear plugs in and put my goggles on, then went under for about 30 seconds. That's my progress regarding the bath so far, and we shall see where things go from here.

Yet there is one thing for sure, the cold shower is definitely not something I have plans of doing because of the water drops instead of just being in water. I tried a shower this morning, and again found it impossible to tolerate, so I think I'm going to stick with the bath technique.
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Old 02-24-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Default Water from faucet

I just did some online research as to the temperature of water out of the faucet. Where I live, the average temperature of the coldest water from the faucet is 53 degrees Fahrenheit, which is surprising because it feels much colder than that. That proves that I have a long way to go if I want to swim year round without a wetsuit here.
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Old 02-24-2016
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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I don't know just how cold the water gets where you live, but do think about getting ear plugs. Prolonged exposure to very cold water can cause you to build up bony growth in the outer ear canal to the point where it can affect hearing. Scuba divers sometimes suffer from very narrowed ear canals for this reason.
Also expect to put on a layer of fat over your torso as your body adapts to the lower temperatures. I've heard it called "bioprene".
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Old 02-24-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoda View Post
I don't know just how cold the water gets where you live, but do think about getting ear plugs. Prolonged exposure to very cold water can cause you to build up bony growth in the outer ear canal to the point where it can affect hearing. Scuba divers sometimes suffer from very narrowed ear canals for this reason.
Also expect to put on a layer of fat over your torso as your body adapts to the lower temperatures. I've heard it called "bioprene".
The river freezes over several times during the winter, so when it is open and the ice floats downriver, the water will be as cold as 33 degrees. I do wear ear plugs no matter the temperature, so that is not an issue.

I am not sure what you mean by expecting to "put on" a layer of body fat. Do you mean that I will develop fat between my muscle and skin tissue, or I should smear something on my torso as an insulator? I have such a high of metabolism that I really don't have much fat; not less than 5%, but just not a lot. If you mean that I will develop a layer of fat, I truly hope I do even though my metabolism is so high; I am tired of being so thin.
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Old 03-02-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Default H2O temperature decrease of habituation and acclimatization is harder than I thought

An update... So, I have taken cold baths every other day, trying to get used to the exposure of the cold water. I strictly used the coldest water from the faucet for the first couple baths, but then I have made the last 3 baths colder and colder each time by adding ice. After getting a thermometer which measures cold water temperature, I have been able to determine how cold my bath is. This morning, I got the water to 39 degrees F, when my baths were around 55 degrees a week ago. I do not plan on getting my baths any colder than that for a while because I definitely felt a stinging pain today but know I have to keep working on the process If I want to become fully acclimatized, yet I recognized this is a harder process than I thought. I actually think I need to increase the temperature for a while. I took a very warm shower afterwards to get warm, and I recognized I made a mistake with the bath today because I kept shivering to the point of teeth my chattering even after a 5 minute warm shower; and couldn't even get my ear plugs out because I was shivering so bad, and even drying off with my towel was hard. It is definitely harder than I thought... And maybe I'm rushing things...
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Old 03-02-2016
IngeA IngeA is offline
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It's not wise to take a warm shower after a long cold bath, it has the same effect as alcohol:
In cold environment the body's blood circulation centralise. To keep the warmth in the body the body decreases the circulation of arms and legs. The central body keeps the temperature quite long, the temperature of the extremities sinks rather fast.
When you take a hot shower after a cold bath, the circulation of the arms and legs is increased very fast and so the cold blood of the limbs gets in the central body. So the temperature of the central body sinks. It needs more than 5 minutes showering to increase the temperature.
Wrap in a blanket and drink warm tee with sugar would do better.
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IngeA View Post
It's not wise to take a warm shower after a long cold bath, it has the same effect as alcohol:
In cold environment the body's blood circulation centralise. To keep the warmth in the body the body decreases the circulation of arms and legs. The central body keeps the temperature quite long, the temperature of the extremities sinks rather fast.
When you take a hot shower after a cold bath, the circulation of the arms and legs is increased very fast and so the cold blood of the limbs gets in the central body. So the temperature of the central body sinks. It needs more than 5 minutes showering to increase the temperature.
Wrap in a blanket and drink warm tee with sugar would do better.
Thank you for that insight. I will definitely remember that as I keep progressing toward my goal of being fully acclimatized.
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  #10  
Old 03-06-2016
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelmarshall5030 View Post
...I am not sure what you mean by expecting to "put on" a layer of body fat. Do you mean that I will develop fat between my muscle and skin tissue, or I should smear something on my torso as an insulator? I have such a high of metabolism that I really don't have much fat; not less than 5%, but just not a lot. If you mean that I will develop a layer of fat, I truly hope I do even though my metabolism is so high; I am tired of being so thin.
It's not uncommon for people who regularly swim in very cold water to develop a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, especially over the torso.
When Lynn Cox was training for her Antarctic swims, she was closely monitored by hypothermia researchers. Her body fat increased despite no increase in calories - it was her body's way of protecting itself. Her physique was ideal for cold water swimming as she has an even layer of subcutaneous fat all over her body.
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