Picture this: you've just crushed a killer HIIT session, your dry-fit tee doesn’t look so dry anymore, your muscles are aching and you’re ready to hit the shower.
But now you wonder– Can I take a bath after a workout? When to bathe after workout – immediately or after a while? Should I bathe in hot or cold water after my workout?
Not to worry, we’re here to answer all these questions. Let’s get to the bottom of this sweaty debate, shall we?
Can we bathe after workout?
Yes, you can bathe after workout.
But can you shower right after you exercise? Nope.
Give your body sufficient time to cool down so that your heart rate and temperature can stabilize. A good rule of thumb would be to wait for at least 20 minutes before you hop into the shower.
Steps to cool down after your workout
Dedicate the last 10-15 minutes of your workout session to cool down your body. Practice a few milder exercises that’ll bring your heart rate down.
Once your heart rate is normal, practice a few cool-down stretches such as hamstring stretch, quad stretch, triceps stretch, downward dog, seated forward fold, child’s pose, etc. These exercises could help flush out the lactic acid from your muscles and prevent soreness.
Remember to drink plenty of water after your workout.
Does showering or bathing after a workout help you recover?
Yes. Taking a bath after exercise helps you recover and preps your body so that you’re fully energized for your next workout session.
Is a hot or cold shower best after a workout?
Wondering if it’s okay to take a hot bath after a workout? Although, it certainly might feel good to take a hot shower after a grueling workout, research shows that cold showers are your best bet.
Here’s why you should take a cold bath after your workout.
1. It reduces inflammation
When you do strength training, it causes microtears in your muscle fibers that are necessary for muscle growth and repair. But this can also cause inflammation leading to discomfort and delay in recovery.
As per a 2010 study, it was seen that cold water immersion helps makes your blood vessels constrict, flushes out toxic products such as lactic acid, and thus reduces inflammation and helps in quicker recovery.
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2. It decreases muscle soreness
Cold water immersion has also been shown to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise. This is thought to be due to the analgesic effect of cold water, which can help numb pain receptors in the affected area.
3. It improves circulation
Having a cold bath constricts the blood vessels on the surface of your skin which diverts the blood flow away from the skin. This in turn causes increased circulation in the deeper tissues of the body.
4. It reduces cardiac stress
In a small 2019 study done on participants who cycled for 45 minutes in a hot environment, it was seen that cold water baths were effective in reducing heart rate and cardiac stress.
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How to have a cold bath after a workout
After you’ve completed your cool-down routine, step into your shower. Start with lukewarm water first and once your body temperature begins to drop, you can gradually make the water colder.
For best results, reduce the water temperature to as cold as you can handle it for the final 90 seconds of your bath.
Other benefits of showering after exercise
1. Cleans up your skin
Sweating during exercise can lead to the buildup of sweat, oil, and dirt on your skin, which can clog your pores and potentially lead to acne breakouts. Taking a bath after exercise helps remove all such impurities and thus prevents clogged pores.
2. Improved sleep
Taking a cold bath after exercise can help lower your body temperature which signals to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
3. Lower your cortisol levels
Having a cold bath after your workout can help reduce your cortisol levels and thus reduce stress.
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As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should take a bath after your gym session, particularly a cold bath.
But do remember that a bath can only be a supplement to your other forms of workout recovery be it – your cool-down routine, proper rest, a balanced diet, adequate fluid replacement, massages, etc.
Here’s to a cool recovery!