Headaches are the result of dilated blood vessels in the brain; cold water can help to constrict the vessels and minimize the pain, says Johnathan Werynski, a registered massage therapist and the clinic and outreach coordinator at the Toronto campus of the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy.
Some headaches can be relieved by plunging your hands or feet into a basin filled with ice water for 30 seconds to 10 minutes. The action changes the circulatory pressure in the brain.
Or place ice or cold compresses directly on your head. If you have a tension headache with neck and shoulder pain, apply hot, wet towels to the neck and shoulders as well to relieve the pain.
Redirecting blood flow away from congested areas (such as the sinuses) can relieve discomfort, says Meghan Bauer, a naturopathic doctor and director of the Isis Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto.
Wrap yourself in blankets. Place your feet in hot (40°C) water, and apply cold compresses to your head and the back of your neck. After 10 to 30 minutes, remove feet and rinse with cold water. The heat directs blood flow to the feet and “circulates blood from the head and sinuses, easing congestion,” says Bauer.
Aquatic physiotherapy-immersion in water while a physiotherapist directs a patient’s movements or moves the patient’s joints-reduces pain and improves joint mobility in arthritis sufferers, says Mark Mandelstam, an israel-trained physiotherapist at the Kitsilano Physiotherapy Clinic in Vancouver, who is certified in hydrotherapy and aquatic rehabilitation.
Since cold temperatures can reduce pain and inflammation in a joint, Werynski recommends submerging the affected area in ice water or applying ice wrapped in a towel.