Statistics show that roughly one in 10 Americans suffer from chronic pain. Defined as persistent pain lasting for at least 12 weeks, it’s a serious problem that often interferes with the person’s daily activities and lowers his or her quality of life. According to a new case study, however, swimming in cold water may relieve chronic pain.
As reported by TIME, a case study published in the BMJ highlights the potential pain-relieving benefits of swimming in cold water. In the study, a man suffering from surgery-related chronic pain tried cold-water swimming as a last-ditch resort to ease his pain. After jumping into the 51-degree water, he experienced complete pain relief. The relief wasn’t just temporary either. The man said his pain never came back even after stepping out of the water.
So, how does cold water offer such amazing relief of chronic pain? Medical experts are still trying to answer this question though some believe the pain-relieving effects are attributed to the way in which cold water affects brain activity. When swimming in cold water, it creates a mild shock of the nervous system that may change how the brain perceives pain.
In addition to pain relief, swimming in cold water has also been shown to burn more calories than warm water. A separate study conducted by researchers from the University of Florida (UF) found that swimmers in cold water burned 12 more calories than their counterparts in warm water.