Cold showers, better for you than kale!

Voluntarily freezing for a few minutes a day to receive some hippie health benefits, how could showering in the cold make me any stronger, happier or healthier? Cryotherapy is for Wealthy idiots, ice baths for Swedes and cold showers are for Hippies. 

I have cold showers daily, WHY? There is substantial evidence to suggest that cold shower therapy can stop depression in its tracks, assist muscle recovery and help to regulate hormones.

There are a variety of ways to implement this habit, some ways more pleasant than others. Hot- Cold is a great method especially to start off, extreme self-explanatory, start your shower normal temp, even hot if you must, then transition to cold, turn it straight to cold and DO NOT MOVE AWAY

Feel the burn and reap the benefits.

Another great method I use during the running season, for mainly the muscle recovery benefits is much more intense than the hot-cold approach. Start off with a hot shower (or run a good long run), then run a cold bath and add 7-10kgs of ice, then jump on in! Submerge the recovering muscles and feel the burn, simmer for 10-15 minutes, while holding genitals for warmth.
“Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. ” – Nikolai A. Shevchuk (2007)

In normal people language this means, cold showers flood the body with compounds that activate the ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, so in theory, cold showers increase your mood, wake you up and help you get ready for an activated next few hours.

Cold showers activate so many receptors on the skin at they may have a very very strong antidepressive effect, ASWELL as a strong Pain relieving effect (Shevchuk et al,. 2007), even just these two effects are reason enough to go through some temporary pain, but wait there’s more!

Using extreme cold as a treatment method is also very widely used by Athletes (myself included) to achieve possibly purely placebo yet widely backed results. Suddenly, with a shock to the sympathetic nervous system the blood vessels Vasoconstrict, flushing metabolites (waste products) from the muscles while also decreasing swelling and inflammation. This effect can easily be derived from a cold shower, colder is not always better after every run and every gym session I now put myself through the not-so (anymore) torturous cold shower. Therefore, this seems as if cold showers must have a profound effect on recovery, this is not so (necessarily), there have been few (if any) conclusive studies to show cold showers have a profound effect and performance, yet many athletes professional and recreational use cold showers and feel the benefits, furthermore personally I find cold showers help me feel recovered faster especially if used straight after a good session!

My Personal Experience

Get better sleep, feel more motivated and perform better in the gym and on the track, cold showers for me are a major KEY.  Personally, I have trouble sleeping most nights, but in the last few months as I’ve been using cold showers my sleep has improved tremendously, almost always I can sleep relatively fast, I assume this is due to the lowered body temperature, therefore, it is easier to sleep. I also feel more refreshed the next day if I put into practice things like foam rolling and cold showers, my muscles might hurt at the time but the refreshing practice helps my brain feel ready to go yet calm and focused while it helps my body release tension and feel nice and cool, at the time it does not feel like heaven but 20 seconds in it doesn’t really bother you anymore

The main benefit that I have derived from cold showers is motivation. The more I take cold showers and teach myself to just take the plunge the more I can just start on other tasks without hesitating, if it becomes easy to induce cold pain willingly for the long term benefits that I do not feel right that second, it becomes easier to study, write or run because I can understand and push through the barrier of resistance to do what will help me reach my goal.

 Try cold showers just once, try the hot to cold method, give it a go reap the benefits and feel the rewards.

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