Try Something New and Daring
Over the years, I'm sure you have heard the argument about hot showers vs cold showers. I'm also pretty sure that the vast majority of us shudder at the very thought of taking a cold shower. If you suffer from a bad back or physical ailment causing muscular pain, I'm sure you, like me, enjoy indulging in a piping hot shower that fills the bathroom full of steam and warms my muscles. Recently however, I was reading an article about how athletes train, and was intrigued to read about the ice baths that they take.
In this blog I'm going to suggest that you try something new and daring, something that sounds a bit radical. However, We at Fairfield would be interested to know if you managed to try the cold shower challenge and whether or not it made any difference to the way you feel. I generally don't have the time to take baths, and am not an active athlete so showering is the better option for me.
Cold Showers - Taking the Plunge
After toying with the idea for about a week I decided to 'man up' and try taking a cold shower. I'd like to say that I didn't just jump right into this challenge. On day one I started my shower at the normal temperature which is about half way up the hot setting. Then I turned the dial down one setting at a time until it was at the bottom of the hot setting. The next day, I started the shower at at the bottom of the hot setting. On day three, I started the shower at the top of the Cold setting and then gradually turned it down until the water was ice cold. Over the following days I repeated the process until I could just climb straight into the freezing cold shower, which I must say, I feel has the best results.
Cold showers work by lowering the muscle tissue's temperature and constrict the blood vessels. We all know targeted cold therapy, such as applying an ice pack, to an injury helps prevent bruising and swelling from the waste and fluid build-up. Cold showers also helps numb nerve endings, providing you with instant, localized pain relief. When you stand in a cold shower or lower yourself yourself in a cold bath, the temperature of the cold water brings down your heart rate and increases your circulation. This drop in temperature minimizes inflammation and helps you recover faster.
It would appear, given the rising popularity that Cold-water baths appear to be considerably more effective than rest when it comes to relieving delayed-onset muscle soreness, which tends to occurs one to four days after exercise or other physical activity.
How Do Cold Showers Help?
I don't know about you but I'm a night owl, I always have been since I was a child. Sleep simply isn't on my radar until at least midnight. The trouble with being a night owl is that getting up for those early mornings can be tough. I was stumbling out of bed, clambering into a hot shower and standing there basking in the warm water for 20-30 minutes. Despite this, I still couldn't wake up. That was until I decided to try cold showers. The Cold water wakes me up quickly, it also relieves my aching muscles faster than a hot shower ever did. Now I leave the shower feeling alive and refreshed and I only spend 5-6 minutes in the shower at most. Saving time, money and feeling good, what's not to like?
The Science Behind Taking A Cold Shower
Of course my experience is simply anecdotal, so here are a couple of quotes from Sport's scientists that back up the points I have made.
"Exposing your whole body to cold water for short periods of time is used to promote “hardening.” Hardening is the exposure to a natural stimulus, such as cold water, that results in increased tolerance to stress and/or disease. This was demonstrated by a study involving 10 healthy people who swim regularly in ice-cold water during the winter.
"Research also shows it may help reduce pain and speed recovery by decreasing blood lactate concentration."
Consult your doctor if you have cardiovascular problems, because the sudden chill can cause a spike in blood pressure.