To most exercise enthusiast, the most logical thing to do after a strenuous workout is to take a shower. However, there are dozens of myths about the health hazards of post-workout showering. So what is the truth about taking a shower after workout?
A friend of mine told me a story about his cousin who died after playing basketball. The incident started when this guy took a shower right after playing basketball, maybe due to his other commitments. The guy suddenly collapsed and went straight into coma. A few days later, he’s dead.
I wasn’t able to verify the cause of death but one thing is certain, showering played a big factor for this guy’s demise. So, do you often take a shower after workout? This article will give you some details about the myths and facts of post-workout showering.
Truth about Taking a Shower After Workout
Most people who workout any types of exercises are going straight to the shower room for a soothing bath. Some are even applying an ice bath thinking that it can help reduce soreness or strength loss. Others just want to avoid smelling stinky so they shower right after exercise. Is this sounds like you?
It is imperative to do warm up exercises before you plunge into the actual strenuous exercise. Why do you need to warm up? Well, stretching and breathing techniques are fundamentals of proper training to help prepare your body for physiological stress that any exercise can induce. It will also make your muscles, bones and joints to be more flexible or agile during workout.
When you are working out, your heart pumps more oxygen-rich blood into different parts of your body, especially to your muscles. This makes your muscles to get stressed up, which is the reason you need to do some cooling down routines before you completely finish your workout program.
Fitness experts suggests a 5 to 10 minute of low-intensity exercises as your cooling down program. This can help reduce the lethargic feeling and help muscles to recover much more quickly. Without cooling down, your blood accumulates inside your muscles instead of going back to your heart.
Now, people are taking a shower after workout simply because it washes out bacteria and sweat off your skin. Plus, showering gives relief to muscle and joint aches so most people tends to take a shower.
A hot shower is what most athletes prefer after workout. It encourages blood flow toward your skin and is relaxing. However, a cold shower is quite a turn-off as it does the entirely opposite thing.
Some beliefs on the benefits cold shower after workout is that, it helps bring your heart rate down while increasing your blood circulation. The cold temperature makes the body to protect your internal organ, which triggers blood flow away from the outer extremities and skin.
Cold water is also believed to help lower the damaged tissue’s temperature and help to localized constricting blood vessels. So cold shower after workout is also believed to be beneficial for bruising and swelling prevention.
Lastly, cold-water baths helps minimize inflammation, gives faster recovery, and is an instant alternative relief to pain.
How cold does the water need to be? Some studies suggest 10-15 degrees C (50-59 degrees F) but since how water bath is also beneficial, you can also practice “contrast immersion“, a bathing therapy that alternates between cold and warm water.
Other benefits of cold water shower after workout include:
- Helps boost your body’s ability to burn fat
- Reduction in uric acid levels
- Increase in glutathione level
- Helps strengthen your immune system
However, these benefits are just beliefs and doesn’t have any evidence that cold shower is indeed beneficial after workout. There are no conclusive reports that proves these benefits to be factual.
According to University of New Hampshire researcher Naomi Crystal, taking an ice shower after workout does not reduce soreness or strength loss. Since ice baths are popular regimen for athletes after workout, many research suggests mixed results when it comes to the true nature of cold shower after workout.
The university study however resulted to a negative outcome. It includes 20 active collegiate athlete volunteers who ran for about 40 minutes. Half of them took a 20-minute ice bath of about 40 degree F.
The participants underwent successive tests to measures their soreness while walking down stairs, quadriceps strength, thigh circumference and levels of an inflammation marker in their blood.
The result reveals that there were no significant differences in strength or soreness between athletes who underwent ice baths and those who did not. Thigh circumference did not change and it also shows no difference or improvement on their performance.
Shower After Workout Summary
The real health effects of post-workout shower remains a mystery and there are no conclusive official reports on its real benefits. What experts suggest is that, use either hot or cold shower moderately.
You have to know your body well before you try either hot or ice cold water shower after workout. Remember that showering can cause spasms or worse health conditions that could endanger your life.
Preparing hot or cold water is painful and time consuming. I suggest that you let your body to cool down (at least for 30 minutes) first before you take a shower. If you are used to apply a cold bath after workout, then it is your choice. But the symptoms of its health consequences might appear later in life so better have a short rest before showering.
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