I have just finished a running session and taken a cool shower and wandered what the benefits of a cool shower after a running session are other than to cool down.
Benefits of taking a cold shower after a run include reducing muscle soreness and inflammation, boosting circulation, improving mental clarity, and enhancing overall well-being. To maximise the benefits, gradually lower the water temperature and focus on breathing, but keep the shower short to stay safe.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of a cold shower after a run and why you should consider adding this practice to your post-run routine.
Why take a cold shower after a run?
You may be surprised to see how many benefits there are to taking cold showers after a run.
Reduces muscle soreness and inflammation
After a run, your muscles experience micro-tears and inflammation, which is a natural part of the muscle-building process. However, excessive inflammation can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue, which can affect your performance in future runs. Taking a cold shower after a run can help to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness by constricting the blood vessels, which helps to decrease the amount of lactic acid in your muscles.
A cold shower after a run can also help to improve circulation by increasing blood flow to your muscles. When your body is exposed to cold water, your blood vessels constrict, and then dilate, which helps to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles. This increased blood flow can also help to reduce the risk of developing varicose veins and other circulation-related issues.
Improves mental clarity
Taking a cold shower after a run can also help to improve mental clarity and alertness. Cold water stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. This increased activation can help to improve your mental focus and energy levels, which can help you tackle the rest of your day with more vigor and clarity.
Improved overall well-being
In addition to the physical benefits, taking a cold shower after a run can also enhance your overall well-being. Cold showers have been shown to boost the immune system, improve sleep quality, and reduce stress and anxiety. All of these benefits can help to improve your quality of life and make you a happier, healthier person.
How to take a cold shower after a run
Now that you know the benefits of taking a cold shower after a run, you may be wondering how to do it effectively. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your post-run cold shower:
Gradually lower the temperature
I suggest you start with warm water and gradually lower the temperature until the water is cold. This gradual transition will help your body adjust to the cold water and reduce shock to your system. I have found out the body will get used to the cool temperature quickly and you will not be in discomfort for long.
Use contrast therapy
If you want to take your cold shower to the next level, you can try contrast therapy. This involves alternating between hot and cold water to help improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness. Start with 3-4 minutes of hot water followed by 30-60 seconds of cold water and repeat this cycle for 2-3 rounds. I do not like this method as it shocks your body from the temperature change much more than gradually lowering the temperature.
Focus on your breathing
When you are in the cold shower, focus on your breath and try to stay calm. Taking slow, deep breaths can help to reduce any feelings of panic or discomfort and allow you to reap the full benefits of the cold water.
Cold Shower Safety
While cold showers do have their benefits, it is really important to be aware of safety precautions you should take.
Gradually lower the water temperature
As mentioned earlier, it is important to gradually lower the water temperature to prevent shock to your system. Avoid jumping straight into cold water. I tried it out and it is not fun. I started to hyperventilate as my body went into a state of shock. Luckely this only lasted a few seconds before it adjusted to the rapid change in temperature.
Keep the shower short
You won’t want to stay in a cold shower for long but, I should mention it to the daredevils out there, it is best to keep it short to avoid any risks. A few minutes is sufficient to reap the benefits of a cold shower without exposing yourself to any potential harm such as catching a cold from a lowering your temperature too much and weakening your immune system.
Avoid taking a cold shower if you have certain medical conditions
If you have certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud's disease or a heart condition, it is best to avoid taking a cold shower without checking with your doctor.
Pay attention to your body
If you feel uncomfortable or experience any signs of hypothermia, such as shivering, numbness, or confusion, you should warm up immediately.
Taking a cold shower after a run can have numerous benefits for your body and mind. So next time you finish a long and intense run, consider taking a cold shower to help your body recover and prepare for your next challenge.