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Hot versus cold showers: Which is better?

By Rodrigo Verney, March 6 2024—

The quick insurgence of an unfathomable amount of Instagram coaches who have given way too many tips and tricks that seem to contradict each other like a great coaching tug-of-war. We constantly see different athletic influencers spreading information that directly contradicts what the next person says. 

This time around, the controversy is around showers and their optimal temperature. It’s undoubtedly true that the temperature of your shower can be beneficial to your body in general depending on the exposure to it. However, the philosophy today is that cold showers can be better for your overall health than warm showers. This thought originated on some motivational podcast a couple of years ago and has legitimate science backing both sides of the argument. 

The problem comes when the discourse has run for so long that people come up with the wildest things to say in a short TikTok video. After so many tips and facts we have to break this information down and find the true hidden gold among so much information. We can better understand how to discern the usefulness of the fake by turning our attention to trustworthy information. To do so, it’s necessary to start from the absolute beginning.

First, we have to make the case for cold showers. Cold showers are unpleasant, it doesn’t matter what you make of it. The feeling of heat leaving your body is harder to adjust to than the warmth and comfort of a hot shower. However, there are benefits to this discomfort. In the same manner that professional athletes use ice bags to reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain, cold showers will contract muscle tissue while alleviating pain and swelling. Leading to a healthier and more durable joint that has time to properly heal.

The biggest benefit comes from the immune response your body may have to cold showers. Your body has to go into overdrive to properly warm up your core that came in contact with the cold. This promotes better blood circulation that leads to a faster and more efficient immune response to areas of your body that usually don’t get much irrigation. It also contracts sore muscles which can lead to more efficient muscle growth. It doesn’t come without its psychological benefits either. A cold shower can make you more alert and ready.

Hot showers, however, also come with benefits. They are much more recommended after a workout or other situations that get your body hot. Your body can suffer much more than you think it will if a cold shower is taken right after a workout. It also has many dermatological benefits. The hot shower can open up pores and relax the skin. It has many psychological advantages as well. It releases a lot of endorphins quickly which can also be helpful after a workout. 

Regardless of their individual benefits, the temperature of your shower should be regulated by the time of the day and how comfortable you are taking them. Remember to repeat the pre and post-workout routine, keep in mind which type of shower would fit best and don’t stress much. Ultimately, there is no real need to force your way through an uncomfortable shower every day. 

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