arrow31 Comments
  1. Abot Bensussen
    Jun 15 - 2:59 pm

    I’m going to try this as soon as I can find a swimsuit!

  2. Jennifer June
    Jun 15 - 4:07 pm

    this is one of the best articles I have read. After 28 years of suffering with ME/CFIDS, POTS,etc we moved from NY to NC. Bought a house with a pool which was totally foreign to me coming from NY with winters lasting 10 months out of the year. Took me awhile to go in, can’t swim and not comfortable in the water but eventually I started going in and just standing there or sitting working my way up to splashing around. The shock of the water on my cold skin took me back a bit and it took me longer to ease in then I spent in the pool but I felt good getting out then I had to have surgery so I missed going in for a year then I had a few heart attacks and missed even more so after reading this I am hoping to start slowly again. I just dipped my feet in the pool and it is like bath water so baby steps is my way of thinking. Thank you for posting this!

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:17 pm

      You are welcome. If you could raise that water temperature up towards your skin or body temperature, it might ease your way into the pool. I certainly find it very hard to spend time in a cold water pool, without exercising to compensate for the heat loss.

  3. VLynx
    Jun 15 - 5:24 pm

    Thank you for this. My brother and sister-in-law sent me $ to buy a pass for the local community pools, which include a warm water therapy pool. I’m eager to try it, but haven’t had the energy to go across town to the pool yet! Now I have more motivation. Like the author I grew up in the water, and was a competitive swimmer from age 10-18. It’s hard for me to be in a pool and not exercise! :-). I haven’t been able to tolerate getting in a normal temperature pool for some years (unless it’s over 87 degrees it feels bad to me). I appreciate your details of the physiology involved. Sounds reasonable. I didn’t know about the increased electrolyte loss in water immersion; I will remember that.

  4. Steve
    Jun 15 - 5:41 pm

    Many thanks, TimV, and many thanks for the citations. I’ve suffered from the identical pain symptoms for 25 years, especially the feet, and getting intolerable. Oddly, I never considered going to a pool (not many local options) but rather tried to scald my feet in a tub to stress the nerves to destimulate/satiate them, probably an idea with no scientific foundation and it doesn’t work fantastically. Pretty weird, a local feed store is having a sale on a big rubber cattle watering trough and, if I can jam it into my car, before this essay appeared I had already decided to buy it and try some water soaking experiments. Now I have a good schema to follow. A “redneck hot tub”…can’t lose much. I’d walk naked through the Smithsonian if it would diminish pain.

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:20 pm


      I love it! I used to spend a lot of time in the rural western United States and I’m done plenty of redneck hot tubs.

      Everything I have read says that the deeper you immerse your body, the better effect you get from the water immersion.

  5. Marg ( Ann)
    Jun 15 - 5:51 pm

    Wow interesting. So far any warm water or being in the sun in water crashes my bp. Interestingly Fir Infrared Sauna does not. I am pain free after 30 minutes at 120 degrees, it lasts most of the day. I do it every morning..

    I can lie or sit in the sun but walking in the sun is crash time. Funny how the sauna does not bother me. I drink plenty of water and an electrolyte drinks..

    I cannot sit in a bath of warm water, always a quick shower. Go figure!

  6. Celia Harrison
    Jun 15 - 9:12 pm

    Thank you, this is very fascinating and really explains so much about ME/CFS. I agree with the author the only way to feel better and find ways to survive is information from sources other than traditional health care. For me Dr. Wahl’s diet has made a huge difference, along with using herbs and spices for pain. I have been able to use pacing with huge success. The more we learn about ME/CFS the more we figure out how to live with it, which after decades of government research blocking is all I expect to happen in my lifetime.

  7. JJ
    Jun 15 - 9:45 pm

    My foot pain started as plantar fasciitis after jogging on pavement, but never went away despite all the interventions (even trying shockwave therapy, intermuscular stimulation, injections, anti-inflam cream, hot/cold contrast bathing, stretching, exercises, night braces, orthotics, etc). I don’t know why I’d develop neuropathy but it’s definitely not plantar fasciitis anymore. My toes usually feel like ice unless I heat them with a heating pad. I normally cannot walk or stand more than 30 seconds without developing pain on the bottom of my feet lasting for hours, so 95% of the time I am in a wheelchair.

    On a whim, I tried wading in the ocean on a sandy beach with the idea that I would strengthen what I supposed to be atrophied foot muscles. I knew I would be in pain for hours after the 10 min walk, but it turns out the cold water seemed to give me a free pass. I can’t imagine the kind of pain I’d have after 10 min of walking on the ground but after the water wade, my feet did not develop the expected pain.

    Another occasion 2 non-CFS people came wading with me, and they danced around saying it was so cold, and quickly hopped out, so I know that my feet aren’t transmitting the cold signal to me. I have no idea what’s going on, and it’s not a cure, but it’s a nice surprise to be able to walk a bit when I’m at the shore in the summer.

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:27 pm


      Yes, confusing. I encourage you to talk to everyone you can think of about what they would think is going on that’s causing the pain difference cold water versus Land. In the world of pain they differentiate between thermal allodynia and mechanical allodynia. My allodynia his mechanical, possibly yours is thermal?

  8. Gary Nelson Harper
    Jun 15 - 11:07 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article!

    I personally lose track of very important information and it benefits me to hear about methods that I thought would be a benefit and then lost track of what I was going to DO!

    On another subject, I find it refreshing that among people with ME/CFS, Fibro, MS and all the other neurological illnesses that bring us to CJ’s site, that there are very few trolls and individuals afflicted with Hypergoogleism (the need to impress the lower caste with their vast knowledge of a subject). It shows how much we have learned to recognize how little we really know.

    Thank you again for the article. You would have made an excellent scientist.

  9. JJ
    Jun 16 - 1:22 am

    Will laying in a bathtub matter, or is it important to be upright while submerged in the water?

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:30 pm


      I don’t know, but give it a try. I suspect it will have similar effects. The amount of benefits from body temperature water immersion is dependent upon the depths of your body that is immersed, according to the literature. But if you have cold feet and legs, I bet the warm bath water would work fine. Try it and go slow and Start low…. Good luck.

      • MK Gilbert
        Jun 16 - 7:55 pm

        I expect that’s why I take so many hot baths! It is usually the 1st thing I resort to when I’m real stressed and feeling anxious. Sometimes I use epsom salts. I know that I get to sleep better after a warm bath. I often have cold feet/ankles, too, which makes it hard to get to sleep.

  10. Marco
    Jun 16 - 2:28 am

    Great article Timv and kudos for going after the why behind why it may be working so systematically (the infrared gun was genius).

    Ischemia does sound likely. I’m currently debating whether or not to try a very low dose of a beta blocker for heat intolerance but do have concerns that Raynauds is one of the possible side effects due to vasoconstriction.

    I’m pretty sure though that individual successes like this must be telling us something about the underlying problem and should be valuable clues for researchers. If you don’t mind me asking did you find any other beneficial effects?

    PS @Steve – “redneck hot tub”. Love it!

    • Cort Johnson
      Jun 16 - 10:01 am

      What a novel use of the infrared gun – yes, genius :)

      • Timv
        Jun 16 - 1:36 pm


        Yeah guys seem to love the infrared heat gun. I waltzed into my doctors office and pulled out that infrared gun to show them and demonstrate the temperature difference between my feet and my thighs. He looked at that gun and said, “cool”, and then spent the next five or 10 minutes pointing at everything in his office and measuring the temperature. My only thought was, “I’m paying $300 an hour for this guy to play with this infrared gun.”

        As far as other beneficial effects, need some time to think about that and then respond to you.

        I guess to do the redneck hot tub, might be useful to have a infrared gun. Even cooler mine comes with a holster!

        • Cort Johnson
          Jun 16 - 4:12 pm


          I needed a good laugh ….

    • MK Gilbert
      Jun 16 - 8:00 pm

      They put me on a beta blocker a couple yrs ago for moderately elevated blood pressure, and it gave me weekly BiPolar II mood swings! Took me months to figure out. I may have had BiPolar anyhow, but it definitely aggravated it. The symptoms came back with the seasonal depression in the fall and winter, but the swings weren’t as frequent. While on the beta-blocker I was having several days of severe depression alternating with several “high” days in which I seemed relatively “normal” but during which I talk incessantly and blurt out everything and anything~very embarrassing! Sometimes I’m jealous of those with BiPolar I as they, at least, get energy bursts, whilst I am totally exhausted most of the time…

  11. Linda Danielis
    Jun 16 - 4:50 am

    Very interesting. Cumbria hospital was offering exercise therapy in an extra warm pool in the infirmary for folk with fibromyalgia but really interesting to separate the effect of sitting in a pool at the right temperature from exercising in a pool. Also interesting the idea of taking temperature in different regions of the body which suggests the possibility of a simple objective physical test to determine whether something is wrong. Perhaps we should all buy spas.

  12. anonomous
    Jun 16 - 7:35 am

    Thank you for this interesting posting.

    For over 40 years I have taken a warm shower every morning, due to nerve pain in my face and head. I have always said and still comment today that this is my morning therapy to make me feel better and get me going for the day. I have ME and neuropathy with no clear pathway to a set of nerves.

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:38 pm

      I really encourage you to try to be neutral temperature pool immersion. I’d be very interested to see what your responses after you build up to 20 minutes or more of immersion time.

  13. Linda
    Jun 16 - 7:35 am

    I am so happy to see this article. I have been doing gentle aquatic exercise (think really, really gentle range of motion stuff) in a warm water pool for years and it has helped my CFS symptoms a great deal. We combine Feldenkrais, yoga, tai chi, Arthritis Foundation moves into our routine and it is amazing. It is a totally unique class taught by an innovative and caring instructor and I wish everyone had access to it. You will never improve if you don’t keep trying nee things to fin what works for you, and I’d encourage anyone to give it a go if they have access to a pool that is 86-94 degrees.

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:42 pm


      It is good to hear your comment. Every time I had problems and increased pain from the pool I was from doing something more than gentle range of motions that you describe. If I would’ve known you were had contact with you I would’ve save myself a lot of pain and misery. If I exercise too much or stretch too hard I have post immersion pain and Crashes. Of course every healthcare practitioner I run into keeps pushing me to try to exercise more. I’ve learned to just ignore them and go slow and low and keep in the near body temperature water.

  14. anonomous
    Jun 16 - 8:08 am

    PS: I also have all the symptoms of a Raynaud type illness. i.e. cold head, hands, feet and also symptoms similar to POTS and vascular problems.

    I suffered a fractured nose from playing with a the pet dog, when in my twenties, yet living abroad shortly afterwards in a hot climate seemed to have cured the sore scalp. However, I have always had the cold periphery problems, even while abroad.

    ME did not develop until 2006, but I’m sure it must have been present for many years without me realising the symptoms as much.

    I hope this information helps some with similar problems, as I have heard of hydrotherapy being beneficial before, from other people.

  15. Geoff Langhorne
    Jun 16 - 8:14 am

    I would be very interested in a conversation to record and broadcast about this, for “The Inside Job Radio Show”. Particularly interested, too, in Tim’s reliance on mindfulness and friends. I would welcome the chance also, to broadcast credits to you, Cort, for recognizing the significance of Tim’s submission.

  16. tatt
    Jun 16 - 8:40 am

    fascinating. I wonder if it would make a longer lasting difference if there was magnesium sulphate in the water and if this is one of the things Timv has tried.

    • Timv
      Jun 16 - 1:44 pm

      That’s a great idea. I do have some oil-based magnesium compound that you rub on your skin. I might try that after I get out of the pool. Thanks for the suggestion.

  17. Celeste Cooper
    Jun 17 - 10:41 am

    I have heard of this from my physical therapist who does warm water therapy. If only. Those of us with interstitial cystitis and chronic UTI do not tolerate water submersion without disastrous results, but I am excited for those who can use this valuable therapy. Great resource. My PT is initiating a study, so I shared this with him.

  18. Sarah L
    Jun 19 - 10:14 pm

    It is interesting to see how much more is known about this kind of sitting in the water treatment, than when my husband did it in the last century.

    In summer he used our local pool, and found success rather rapidly. But community pools are closed when school opens, way too early now, and he learned that the chlorine of indoor facilities was too hard on him. So he made his own little tank, cleaning the water without chlorine. Lots of learning on how to do it, and we had to get a room in the basement dug deep enough for him and the tank to fit, but it got done.

    It really helped his amount of daily function. He did not have allodynia, but a really severe case of M.E., and MCS. Some of the explanation we got at the time was to stand in the water, because the pressure difference from feet to neck was how all those internal changes happened. And the water had to be warm — in just five minutes in a pool meant for the swim team, I had goose bumps all over and had to get out. Dr. Cheney had suggested this to him, and it was a great idea. My husband’s lymph nodes in the neck would often swell, and after he slowly increased the time in the water, they would go down, indicating his immune system was responding too.

    So, now there are therapy pools that are warm enough, that is news. Dr. Cheney actively forbade any exercise in the water. That was asking for trouble from M.E., as exercise in the water is worse than just walking on land.

    I wonder if I should try that now. I need something to gain function, or stop the slide downward.

    Thanks for all that research you did, with so many explanations of the body’s complex reactions to the simple act of sitting or standing in warm water.


  19. Ash
    Jun 23 - 8:51 pm

    So interesting! Allodynia is one of my most prominent symptoms. I have had CFS for 4yrs so all this is new to me. I have found the time in the infrared sauna is the only real relief I get. I also find less, yet significant relief from the warm south Florida ocean. Your information makes it make sense.

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