Not to toot my own horn, but I’m becoming a bit of an expert in making people wet, making them moan, and transforming their athletic performance… I’m even willing to bet that I can make you wet, and make you moan, not too long after you finished reading this post…

 

How though?

While science is a little mixed on whether ice baths and cold compresses have effects on recovery, one popular tool for recovery, that is incredibly accessible, and somewhat popularised by ‘IceMan’ Wim Hof, is cold showers.

 

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The science behind cold showers for athletic recovery and performance

While science lacks some specific understanding of why it works, a review article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that contrast water therapy (alternating hot water, then cold) can help enhance recovery and reduce feelings of fatigue in endurance sports.

Research conducted into the Wim Hof Method has shown that “cold showers (and exposure to cold in general), in addition to increasing metabolic rate directly, stimulate the generation of brown fat. Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that in turn generates energy by burning calories. Cold showers, then, are an effective tool for people who are looking to lose a few pounds.”

Considering the cost (nothing; presuming you are already showering…) and the time it requires in your day (up to 90 seconds…), the potential gains are well worth a little scream. Even if you aren’t looking to lose some fat, helping your body mobilise fat for fuel will unlock potential energy for you to use. The added bonus being an increase in recovery and feelings of fatigue will mean that you are able to take your training to a new level.

 

 
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How to get started with cold water therapy

It’s pretty simple, although not all that pleasant!

It might not be advisable to jump straight in with a cold shower, especially if you have underlying health concerns, but a 15-30 second cold (not necessarily full cold, but enough to get you chilled) burst at the end of your shower is a good place to start. Eventually you can work your way to 90 seconds on full cold and see how you feel.

You can then start to try contrast water therapy where you do 15 seconds on cold, followed by 15 seconds hot (not enough to burn you!), repeated for a few minutes. Keep a log and test either, not both at the same time, for at least 2-3 weeks and see which you prefer.

 

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Summary

While this is undoubtedly an area where science can still shed further light on how this works and more specific benefits for endurance athletes, you simply can’t argue with this being a low risk, high reward activity.

Having read this to the end, I’m fairly confident you’re now considering taking a shower and turning it on cold, at which point you can imagine me sitting on your shoulder, smiling, as I have indeed made you both wet and moan...

 

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About The Author: Pav Bryan

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