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Cold shower after running – is it worth it? When to start?

Publish date 02.09.2022

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Cold shower after running – is it worth it? When to start?

Many people like to take hot baths and relax after a day full of stressful situations. However, how about a cold shower, especially if you are an athlete? Cold showers are popular among runners. Some certainly find it very difficult to turn the tap on cold water, while showering. 

Such a cold shower after running has its advantages. However, it is not ideal, because it also has its disadvantages. Want to find out what you can gain by taking a cold shower after workout? Where to start so that you don’t get shocked? You will find out everything you need to know by reading this article. Let’s go! 😉 

Cold shower after running – what happens in our body?

Before we get to the benefits of a cold shower after training, it’s important to see how this activity affects our body: 

  • by the contact of cold water with warm skin, you take a deep breath and thus supply more blood to muscles and brain,
  • the mitochondrion produces more heat,
  • the brain produces more beta-endorphins,
  • blood begins to circulate faster in the body – through cold water, the blood vessels first narrow and then dilate. 

This is how a cold shower affects our body, but what does it really mean, and what benefits can we (runners) draw from it? 

1. Many advantages for the immune system

Do you often get sick and this is why you can’t train as often as you want? You can change this by strengthening your immunity system. Not only lemon or vitamin C will help with this. A cold shower will also strengthen your immunity. People who do this regularly get sick much less often, and if they do get sick, the infection lasts shorter and is easier to fight off. 

That’s why ice swimming – bathing in cold water, such as in a lake or the sea – is so popular. Many people go out on cold days to spend at least a few minutes in cold water and toughen up their bodies. 

Why does a cold shower strengthen the immune system?

  • A cold shower makes the blood flow better – the consequence is better oxygenation, 
  • Nutrients reach the muscles,
  • Enhanced detoxification processes, 
  • It has a positive effect not only on health, but also on mood. 

2. Are you interested in ice swimming? A cold shower will prepare you for this activity

We earlier mentioned ice swimming. It is a very good form of activity that will prepare you for lower temperatures. 

You can be amazed by this information and rub your eyes in disbelief, but a cold shower is more difficult to bear than an ice bath swimming in the lake or in the sea. Are you wondering why? Every single drop is like a new stimulus for your body. This is why if you take a cold shower at home, then ice swimming will be much easier for you.

Try it! Even if you don’t last long in the cold water, it will get better and better with time. Remember to not give up after the first try. The approach is also important! 

Cold shower after running - woman doing ice swimming

3. Reduce the pain in muscles after training 

As you know, after training, it is important to stretch your muscles. The cold shower after the workout will help you with this. The cold will also make the muscle pain decrease. It will also increase the range of motion of the painful area, which is associated with a reduction in swelling when exposed to cold. 

The cold will also make the muscle pain decrease. It will also increase the range of motion of the painful area, which is related to the reduction of swelling under the influence of cold.

4. Improve your thermoregulation

Some people, at the very thought of a cold shower after workout, want to hide under a warm blanket. However, if you’re a chilly person, this can help you beat it!

Of course, you need to keep in mind that this is not a one-time shower. You need to perform it regularly, meaning every day, if you want it to have the desired effect. Brrr! Every day? What benefits does this have for me? After all, it’s torture! 

By doing this:

  • you will get rid of the problem of cold hands and feet, 
  • you’ll find it easier to run in autumn and winter when it’s raining and there’s a strong wind, 
  • you will be able to wear fewer layers of clothes at lower temperatures, 
  • you will be able to run in lower temperatures without a hat or gloves. 
  • you will not have an excuse to stop training because it is too cold 😉 

You want to run in the rain? Click HERE to find out 10 good advices!

5. Gives energy and reduces stress

Often in the morning, you need a large amount of energy to wake up. Some individuals get their energy in the morning from a morning run or coffee. However, there is another solution for this – a cold shower in the morning. 

What’s more, thanks to this you will be more resistant to stress. After the cold shower, your muscles will relax, and you will provide a large amount of oxygen to your body. This will also provide a lot of the strongest happiness hormones – beta-endorphins. They will help you survive stressful situations during the day. In addition, given that norepinephrine is secreted during contact with such a cold, a cold shower becomes quite an antidepressant.

6. Positive impact on the psyche? Yes

Turning off the tap with cold water certainly requires a lot of determination from some people. After all, it is not at all comfortable and pleasant. In order to do it, you need to have a positive mental attitude and know that it has a good effect on your body. It is a way out of your comfort zone. It will make you mentally stronger. 

What’s more, even when there are bad weather conditions outside, such as rain or wind, running will not be an obstacle for you. Believe us, it really works!

7. Increase your concentration

As we have said many times before, cold water is a powerful stimulus for the body. It will provide energy and oxygenate the brain. It will also have a positive effect on your concentration at work and during your daily duties. 

Concentration - cold shower after workout

8. Improve your skin’s appearance

Cold water does not dry out the skin as much as warm water does. Therefore, it will be firmer and more elastic. What’s more, such showers improve skin color. 

Don’t be frightened when your skin is red after a bath. This is normal. Afterward, however, it will return to its natural color. Interestingly, cold water will make my hair fall out less. 

9. You will learn to control your breathing

Cold shower after running = every drop as a new stimulus for your body. This is why during this action your breathing quickens. Yes, cold water is a shock for a warm body, and this is why it reacts in this way. Because of your quick breathing, you provide more oxygen. 

However, you need to control it and calm your breathing. How to do it? Calm yourself down and take deep breaths. In this way, you will regain control over your body and breathing. 

NOTE: However, if your breathing is very accelerated and your diaphragm spontaneously contracts, get out of the shower and warm yourself up.

10. Burn additional calories

When you pour cold water on yourself, the body must maintain the correct body temperature for survival. Mitochondria produce heat by burning calories. At the same time, so-called brown fat is activated, which helps maintain the proper body temperature. Metabolic processes are improved and white fat is burned off.

NOTE: During such a shower you burn very few calories, about 20 kcal. Do not shower for a long time, because it will not make you lose weight or have a flat belly 😉

What to watch out for when taking a cold shower after a workout?

If you want to start taking cold showers after running, then you should remember an important thing. Well, it should not be long. It is recommended that the shower should be short – 30-60 seconds. Even people who are taking part in ice swimming are in the water for no longer than 6 minutes. 

Longer showers (according to research) can reduce the rate of protein synthesis, which is essential for muscle growth. 

Don’t take cold showers when you have a cold. Doing so can only make you even sicker. Get well and recover during this period. 

If you suffer from any illnesses, you must first consult your doctor about whether you can take such cold showers. Certainly, heart disease, pregnancy, urinary tract infections, or being underweight are contraindications to taking them.

Remember not to go under a source of cold water with your whole body at once. Start with your legs and then move on to your arms. Next in line are the chest and back. Do it all gradually. 

Cold shower after running – how to increase the pace of the recovery after workout?

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