Chronic low back pain is one of the physical ailments plaguing athletes and fitness enthusiasts today. It comes from the strenuous exercises that they endure each day. To deal with these and other pains, many athletes turn to drugs. However, pain relievers are just a temporary relief and are often quite expensive. There are other things you can use to relieve your body from chronic pain apart from taking addictive drugs. One such option is taking cold showers or baths for pain management.
Cold therapy and its use in physical recovery
Taking cold showers or baths after intense exercise is called cold therapy or cold water immersion. It involves immersing the body or parts of it in ice water after intense exercise to aid in recovery. One can also do the same by standing under a cold shower and allowing the cold burst of water to flow all over the body.
Few people want to get close to a cold bath or shower after an intense workout. Many of us prefer to take a warm bath or shower to ease away the soreness and relax the body. However, ice baths and cold showers have been used by athletes and other extreme sports performers for many years to combat pain, fatigue, and aid in quick recovery after a strenuous training session.
What is the origin of cold therapy?
The history of ice baths dates back to Greek times when it was a part of a regimen known as Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy referred to some therapeutic procedures the Greeks used to benefit the body. They exposed people to cold temperatures in enclosed spaces to help heal the body and improve performance and appearance.
In recent times, athletes such as Paula Radcliffe and Michael Phelps have attested to the benefits of taking cold baths after intense physical workouts. Also, stage performers such as Madonna are rumored to use this form of therapy after performing to ease aches and pains. It has even helped raise a lot of money for worthy causes like in 2014 when it was used to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease by the ALS Association through the famous ice bucket challenge.
As you can see, ice baths have been popular dating back from ancient times right up to today. They continue to be used by people to deal with muscle fatigue and aid in the quick recovery of the body. Although many of us would rather have a massage or take a hot bath for such purposes, there is wisdom in trying cold therapy as it has a track record of working for many people. So, if you are dealing with some aches and pains such as chronic low back pain that nothing seems to change, maybe it’s time to take a cold shower or immerse yourself in a cold bath for a change.
How do cold baths and showers work for recovery?
It’s not enough to tell anyone dealing with chronic low back pain to try cold bath therapy; we must explain how it works. Well, when you are exercising, your body especially your joints and muscles undergo intense strain. It leads to a lot of wear and tear of the muscle tissues, fatigue, and inflammation of joints that causes you to feel aches and discomfort.
Once you finish a workout, you are advised to rest to give your body a chance to repair itself from the wear and tear. Most of this damage occurs when waste products such as lactic acid deposit themselves around the joints and cause our muscles to tire. Taking a cold bath or shower helps the body to flush these waste products out of your body and allow the inflammation to go down. In this way, your body can heal faster, and also you feel energetic ready to tackle other aspects of your day.
Quick muscle recovery after a cold bath or shower happens because the extreme cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to tighten and flush out the buildup of lactic acid and other waste products from your system. Once you get out of the bath, your body warms up quickly, circulation is improved, and this causes blood to flow through your muscles helping your muscles to recover. You come out of the bath feeling rejuvenated and energetic significantly cutting down your recovery time.
How do you take a cold bath or shower for muscle aches and pains
Not everyone is cut out to submerge themselves in a tub of cold water or ice like some hardcore athletes. Also, it helps to know that they do this under the supervision of experts and in special sports facilities so it may not work out the same for you.
However, it doesn’t hurt to try cold therapy especially if you suffer from chronic low back pain and other endless aches. You can start by taking a cold shower after an intense workout and see how it works out for you. Just stand under the cold shower for five to ten minutes and let the cold water hit all parts of your body, especially where you suffer from pain and tension.
Once you make a habit of taking cold showers and have witnessed their benefits, you can graduate to cold baths. You don’t have to work out to take a cold bath especially if you have chronic pain problems. You can just use it as a part of your therapy to help ease the pain.
Taking an ice bath for pain management or muscle recovery is easy. Just fill your tub with a few bags of ice and then pour in water until it gets halfway up the tab. Then, gradually immerse your body in the cold bath starting with your legs until your whole body is in the water. Although it’s uncomfortable, try and remain submerged in the cold water for a few minutes. With time, you will be able to lie in the cold water for up to twenty 15 minutes. It is advisable that you do not exceed twenty minutes in a cold bath as you risk health problems. You can do this at least once a week and see how much it helps you to manage your chronic low back pain and other aches in your body.
Benefits of taking cold baths and showers
Apart from helping you to deal with chronic pain, fatigue and muscle recovery, cold baths and showers can assist you in other ways. These are;
– Boost energy
Although we all want to take a rest after intense activity, we don’t always have the time to do it as other commitments beckon. The good thing is that cold baths can help energize the body and relieve mental fatigue. Taking a cold bath or shower helps to increase the blood circulation and increase the supply of oxygen in your body so that you feel invigorated and energetic. It’s one of the reasons that many people take cold showers in the morning when they get out of bed.
– Boost immunity and relieve stress
Exposing the body to cold showers or baths has a way of hardening the body so that it can overcome sicknesses such as colds easily. Also, it boosts the production of the antioxidant Glutathione in the body which is useful for promoting the optimum performance of all other antioxidants in the body. In this way, regularly taking cold baths and shower can help relieve stress and improve immunity by optimizing the use of antioxidants in the body.
– Improve appearance
Cold baths and showers are a great way to improve your skin. Taking cold baths forces your body to improve circulation, and this helps your skin glow because it tightens the pores. Also, cold showers do not strip the skin of its natural oils as hot baths do; so it’s a great way to keep your skin supple, moisturized and taut.
– Lose weight
Also, when we expose the body to cold, the body burns fat to keep us warm and also prevent fatal ailments such as hypothermia. When you immerse yourself in a cold bath or take a cold shower, your body will start burning fat tissue to ensure that your vital organs stay warm and help you recover your warmth as fast as possible once you get out. In these ways, cold baths are a great way to keep you looking good and trim without exerting yourself too much.
Regularly taking cold baths and showers provides the body with so many benefits. If you are dealing with chronic low back pain and other aches you should try cold therapy under the supervision of a medical professional. It will not only help you overcome aches and pains, but it will also improve your appearance and mood. So why not try some cold therapy today!
Author Bio: Lori Longoria