The saunas and steamy showers are places where you’ll find many gym-goers post-workout, and it is relaxing but is it best for your gains? The next time you jump in the shower post-workout, turn the showerhead to blue and give it a try. yes, it will be cold. From cold showers to ice baths, cold therapy helps provides perks that could assist you
1. Decrease Muscle Pain & Help Exercise Recovery
After working out, you may feel pain from the breakdown and microtrauma of your muscles. Resulting in a pinched or irritated nerve and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from post-workout muscle inflammation. Cold temperatures can help numb and soothe irritated nerves, reducing muscle pains.
2. Improve Mood and Balance Hormones
After a great workout, do you find yourself in a good mood and feel optimistic about the rest of the day? That’s because exercising releases feel-good brain chemicals known as endorphins. Cold showers can have the same effect as your endorphins and create an electric shock-type impact to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels.
The endorphins can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and may also decrease cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. This relaxed state enables you to think more clearly and feels more energized and optimistic.
3. Help Increase Endurance and Muscle Strength*
While the ice bath may seem perfect for recovery from endurance exercise, if your goal is to gain strength, an ice bath may not be the best recovery strategy.
*Remember in section one where reducing inflammation was mentioned? Inflammation is also the central part of the recovery process from strength training. The inflammatory response is responsible for preventing the spread of damaging agents to nearby tissues, disposing of cell debris and pathogens, and setting the stage for the repair process. Having no inflammation is not what you want all the time. However, that does not mean that you cannot use a cold shower for recovery, but remember how it may affect you, good and bad.
4. Improve Hormone Balance
Hormones can influence your health and fitness in several ways. Some hormones can be good for you, while others may have negative impacts. Therefore, it can be essential to understand how hormones affect your health and fitness to make informed decisions about maintaining the best. For example, testosterone is necessary for supporting muscle growth, strength, and size. On the other hand, the stress hormone cortisol is linked with a slower metabolism, increased weight gain (and specifically fat gain around your belly), poor sleep, and slower exercise recovery.
Cold showers may work by increasing endorphins, which can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. This may also decrease cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone.
5. Strengthen Your Immune System
There is a positive and negative relationship between exercise and your immune system. For example, working out can help flush out bacteria and viruses, which may also help circulate white blood cells throughout your body. However, too much exercise can also weaken your immune system.
Cold showers can help stimulate the body’s immune cells, known as leukocytes, which can fight off illnesses.
6. Improve Blood Circulation
Step out of a cold shower and look in the mirror; you may appear red on the face and body, likely due to increased blood flow. When your body gets touched by cold water, a shock is put on your circulatory system. A higher blood flow protects vital organs. There is a constricted circulation near your skin.
This process can help flush out toxins and metabolic waste, such as the waste generated in your muscles and tissues during your workouts and help supply your muscles with more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. This is good for your overall health and can improve muscle recovery and performance, and enhance your overall health and wellness.
7. Help Prevent Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is when there are more free radicals in your body than antioxidants. This can happen, though:
- An environmental reason, such as air pollutants or household pollutants
- Diet and unhealthy ingredients, such as too much sugar or processed foods
- Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or spending too much time in the sun
- Overtraining and too much excessive
Oxidative stress is closely linked with chronic diseases, poor fitness recovery, and weaker muscles. However, putting your body through oxidative stress, like taking cold showers, can help develop a nervous system that is resilient to stress.
How To Add Cold Showers and Cold Therapy To Your Fitness Routine
Taking a cold shower can be as simple as it sounds:
- Turn the showerhead to as cold as your shower allows, or you can handle it for the first time
- Set a timer for 30-60 seconds
- Mentally prepare yourself and step into the cold water
- Slowly increase the time you spend in the cold shower until you’re able to withstand a full shower in ice-cold water
Want to try an accessible Cold Therapy Tub at home? Try an ice bath immersion at home:
- Fill a tub with cold water and a few bags of ice
- Slowly lower your body in it for 5-10 minutes (the goal should be 10-15 minutes). It will be hard to last a minute your first time.
You can also try contrast showers:
- Turn the shoulder head back and forth from cold to hot in the shower for 30-second increments. The alternating heat and cold may heighten the effects of the cold shower.
Remember to use proper nutrition and recovery protocol and cold showers and therapy for maximal results.