After training: hot bath or cold shower?

You just hit the beating of your life in the gym , or have been running a good time to improve your brand and prepare for the next race. You are tired, sweaty and notes to your muscles ask for a truce. Great, now what ?

Shower, right? Yes, but how: cold or hot ? You’ve seen how professional athletes dive into ice baths after training and you’re thinking about it, although, honestly, who wants to go through something like that. Also hot showers have their defenders.

So, what is better? Well, as often happens with these things, there is no absolute answer , but most of the tips go through uniting both things: start with a cold shower and gradually move to hotter water.

What happens with a cold shower

Professional athletes usually opt for cold water after intense training, because it helps them recover earlier, and reduces the muscle pain and stiffness that we normally associate with soreness.

The theory behind this practice is that intense exercise causes microtrauma , that is, small breaks in the muscle fibers. This muscle damage has the effect of stimulating the activity of the cells, helping to repair them and in turn strengthening the muscles.

Cold water produces an effect called vasoconstriction , meaning that the blood vessels contract, reducing the flow of blood. This helps lower the body’s overall temperature and also reduce the inflammation of muscles, tendons and joints that can occur after a particularly intense workout.

It passes little by little to warm water

After soaking in cold water, go little by little to warmer water , since showering with warm water also has its advantages.

Water at a higher temperature produces the opposite effect of cold water, called vasodilation , in which blood vessels widen and circulation is stimulated. When the blood is returned to the muscles, cellular repair and the elimination of their products resulting from training, such as lactic acid and other wastes, are stimulated.

In addition, this can improve mobility , preventing the cold from stiffening the muscles and joints.

Of course, make sure that the temperature change is gradual and do not go from one extreme to the other. In a healthy person this does not have to suppose more than a shock of fright, but if there are previous cardiac injuries, the extreme change of temperatures can negatively affect the heart.

But according to science, what is better?

The truth is that it is difficult to know. On the one hand, the alternation between cold and hot water seems to have a positive effect on the inflammation of muscles and tendons, but this is not too evident, and some studies show that in fact that effect does not occur .

On the other, it is difficult to measure other factors involved , such as the perception of pain in each person, the sensation of stiffness and subsequent recovery, as well as the psychological aspects : the feeling of well-being, the energy levels of each person, the memory of the training and the desire to return the next day …

That is, there is no single answer and although a shower of this type seems to have a positive effect on recovery, it is best to choose what makes you feel better , help you recover before and avoid muscle pain and joint Of course, if you have any previous pathology , such as an injury or a heart problem, it is best to consult an expert before taking any extreme action.

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