Many of our clients, especially the ones that attend our AM classes, have heard me talk about how since late 2016 I’ve been finishing all of my showers with somewhere between two and five minutes of cold water, not kind of cold, but as cold as my shower gets water.
Most of them look at me like I’m out of my mind and either don’t believe me or think that what I’m doing is absolutely insane, and my response is usually, “I’m definitely a little crazy, but there is some science behind it and if there’s a chance it’s making me a better athlete and human, I’m willing to keep doing it until someone proves to me that it’s not”.
With that being said, I know most of you won’t care how much research I give you to support this crazy idea, you just won’t be able to convince yourself to turn that shower handle all the way to cold and stand in it for 2 straight minutes, but who knows, some of you might…
So, this is how the story goes and if you’re willing to give it a shot, this is what you might find.
It was late 2016 and I was feeling a little run down.
This late fall and winter in Northern California were filled with cold temperatures and lots of rain and member after member was reporting being sick.
With The Open only a few months away (it started in late February and ran through all of March), my coach was worried about me getting sick and not being able to perform my best one of the 5 weeks of competition, which could be enough to rule be out of contention for a Regional qualification spot.
He sent me a strength and conditioning journal article that he had recently found that talked about how performing cold therapy (ice bath or cold shower) for a minimum of 2 minutes daily had been shown to increase the disease-fighting white blood cell count in participants with statistical significance.
With this increase in white blood cell count, the study showed that the participants that finished their showers with cold water, as opposed to hot showers only, got sick less or were able to fight sickness and return to full health quicker.
That was all the convincing I needed to give it a shot.
The first week was MISERABLE!
I would get in the shower at 4:10 am, wash myself off with soap in the hot water and just cringe at the thought that I was going to once again turn that handle all the way to cold and just stand there letting the water beat on my face while breathing erratically until it was time to get out.
The first few days I only made it 30, then 45, then 60 seconds before I couldn’t take it anymore.
A couple more days and I was getting closer to 2 minutes.
After about 10 days or so I was turning the shower to cold sooner and spending 3, 4 or 5 minutes in the cold water and only getting out because I didn’t want to be late for work.
As I started to get comfortable I started scouring the internet and asking my coach for more information on what else this might be doing for me that was positive because I felt like this was making me a superhuman, haha.
As I read more, I learned that there were three other significant positives about cold showers that I couldn’t ignore and I made the decision that this was something I was going to continue FOREVER.
Yes, I just said that I will never stop taking cold showers.
Yes, you might think I’m crazy once again, but just wait for the other details.
In addition to helping prevent susceptibility to getting sick and helping you recover quicker when you just can’t avoid it because your 3-year-old sneezes germs right into your face after picking up something nasty at day-care, there are two more awesome positives that come with cold showers or ice baths.
1. Faster Recovery: As an athlete knows, sometimes when you’re training hard your entire body hurts. Like you can barely walk up and down the stairs or it’s hard to put your shirt on because your upper body is so wrecked sore. Taking a cold shower or ice bath has been proven hundreds if not thousands of times to help reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and get you back to 100% quicker than without.
2. Increased testosterone: Although a cold shower might make you feel like your male parts are going to shrivel up and fall off, it has been shown that this cold water actually increases testosterone production, which not only boosts a man’s libido, but will increase overall strength and energy levels, as well as help speed up recovery during hard training cycles.
So, now that you know why, who’s gonna join the cold shower club???
Oh, come on, give it a shot!
And don’t give up during those first couple days.
Just make them shorter and slowly try to extend the time spent in the cold.
You’ll thank me later, I promise!