Will an ice cold shower make you fitter or just miserable? Recently some of our gym members have been experimenting with cryotherapy as a means to aid in recovery and build mental toughness. Cold rinsing and ice baths are common among athletes who require speedy recoveries, they aid in reducing inflammation and muscle soreness.
While researching the subject I came across a very interesting article on the subject of hormesis, cryotherapy and fasting.( http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/hormesis.html ) Hormesis in a fitness context refers to enduring a certain physical stress which in turn makes you more resistant to other types of mild or acute stress.
We Crossfit types experience the benifits of Hormesis from our training all the time. Ever notice your Deadlift max go up after a cycle of hard met-con? That's hormesis in action! So why cold showers? The answer is non-shivering thermogenesis, and the possible benefits it can provide. In an effort to combat the stress of the cold, our bodies crank up our metabolic rates in order to normalize body heat, upping our BMR and increasing calorie expenditure. There is also some interesting research into the possible anabolic effects of post workout cold rinsing.
While cryotherapy and other concepts presented in the above article may not be for everyone, they could prove to be useful tools in helping you reach the next level of your training.