Taking a shower after a workout should be an important part of your post-workout routine. A shower does not only get rid of the sweat and stink but also helps your body cool down and recover.
But do you take a hot shower or a cold shower? Most people make the mistake of thinking that it does not matter.
Apparently, a hot or cold shower comes with its own benefits. But which one is better after working out? In this article, we will settle the battle between a cold vs. hot shower after a workout
Hot vs. cold shower after a workout
Hot and cold showers have benefits when it comes to post-workout needs. So, the best thing that you can do is to apply both by alternating between cold and hot showers. This technique is called the “recovery shower.”
The recovery shower is a more effective way to stimulate blood flow circulation, prevent stiffness, keep the body mobile, and speed up recovery compared to just taking a cold or hot shower alone.
Take note though that the recovery showers are best for someone who does not have an acute injury. If you have an injury after you work out, you will have to discuss which shower is best for you with a physical therapist.
How the recovery shower works
To do the recovery shower, you should start off with a cold shower. This will decrease any inflammation in your muscles, tendons, and joints. These parts will be inflamed every time you work out and it is unhealthy to keep them in an inflamed state for a long time. The cold water will also stiffen the muscles and joints, which helps lessen the pain.
After going through a cold shower, switch to a hot shower. The hot water will improve your joint and muscle recovery process and flush out all the dead cells, scar tissue buildup, and inflammatory cells buildup.
Switching from cold to hot shower will also help decrease the chances of stiffness after a workout by improving your mobility.
Pros and cons of cold and hot showers
Of course, we all recover differently. Sometimes, the recovery shower may not work best for you so you have to stick with either a cold or hot shower. But how can you choose between the two?
Here, we present the pros and cons of each type of shower for you to assess which one will apply to your needs best.
- Cold showers have a regenerative effect that will help relax your muscles after an intense workout session. This also helps reduce muscle soreness and boost muscle repair.
- Cold showers will restrict circulation on the body surface so it causes the blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at a faster rate in an attempt to make sure that you retain your ideal body temperature. This increases blood flow circulation and triggers the circulatory system to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Cold showers can help you reach your weight loss goals. Some fat cells like brown fat generate fat and in turn, burns fat. Brown fat is usually found in the shoulder and neck area. So when your body is exposed to cold temperature like a cold shower, you are actually burning fat.
- Cold showers give your skin a healthier glow because cold water constricts blood flow.
- Cold showers can give you healthier and stronger hair over time because the cold water closes and strengthens the hair cuticles.
- Cold showers can help calm skin conditions that cause you to itch.
- You should not take cold showers if you are feeling sick. The cold water may be too hard for your immune system to take and make your condition worse.
- You should not take cold showers if you already feel cold. The cold water will just increase the amount of time it will take for your body to adjust and warm up.
- Hot showers are very effective if you need to relax your muscle. The hot water will relieve any tension in your body and soothe out muscle fatigue. This will improve muscle healing.
- Hot showers help you deal with skin blemishes. The hot temperature will open up the pores of your skin and makes it easier for you to clean out any trapped dirt and oil in the pores.
- Hot showers are considered an effective aid for colds and coughs. The heat from the water and steam will clear your nasal passages, open up airways, and loosen up any phlegm.
- Hot showers increase your blood pressure. This is a problem if you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease because it can worsen your condition.
- Hot showers may dry out and irritate your skin because the hot water can damage the keratin cells on the outer layer of your skin. This will prevent the skin cells from locking in any moisture. In worse case scenarios, it can make any underlying skin conditions that you may have worse.
How long should I wait to shower after working out?
It is advised that you wait for about 20 minutes before you hit the shower after an intense workout. The waiting time will allow your heart rate and body temperature to go back to their normal levels. Also, by the time 20 minutes is up, you will stop sweating. Take the wait time to do some cool-down stretches or rehydrate your body by drinking a lot of water.
Is it bad not to shower after a workout?
Showering after your workout is not just about getting rid of the sweat and smell. It keeps you healthy too. All that sweat can cause a build-up of bacteria on your underarms, feet, and groin area.
Also, when you wear tight clothes while working out, you are at risk of yeast infection when you leave an area of your body damp with sweat for prolonged periods.
If you do not have the time to hit the shower, make sure you have some wet wipes with you so you can wipe off the build-up sweat and clean up before changing into clean clothes.
Do cold showers help after a workout?
Cold showers help a lot when it comes to relieving muscle soreness. So, if you feel like your muscles are killing you after an intense workout, a cold shower can be good for you. In fact, athletes and those who do strength training actually do ice baths as part of their post-workout routine to speed up the healing process.
To reap more benefits, experts totally recommend recovery showers where you will be alternating hot shower with cold shower to trigger your body’s quick response for muscular recovery and workout recovery.
Your post-workout routine is essential when it comes to your recovery. The type of shower after a workout that you choose will say a lot about how your body deals with muscle or injury recovery.
Recovery showers are the recommended post-workout shower for those who do not have any injury or illness. The alternating temperatures make you maximize the benefits of showering with hot and cold water at the same time.