It sucks getting older. If I had done this 75 Hard Challenge 10 years ago, I know that my body would have reacted better. I’m doing pretty well -not complaining – but I wish that my muscles and joints didn’t take so long to stop hurting after my workouts. In particular, my old knee injury has really been acting up over the past few days and has caused me to reduce my pace on my walks.
Today, day 16 of the 75 Hard Challenge, I must admit that I am very pleased with the progress I have made and with my current status. I have kept with every task and have even added simple tweaks that I believe will help my progress even more. But this knee is really bothering me.
Time to “amp it up”.
So today, I added one more tweak. Cold Showers.
Because I’m in pain. And I want relief. And because there is evidence that cold showers:
- Improve Physical Recovery. This was my primary reason for adding this to my routine. Athletes have been using this process for years to speed up their physical recovery after sports or injury. In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, they found that cold water immersion and contrast water therapy (first using hot water, then cold) can help enhance recovery and reduce feelings of fatigue.
- Reduces Pain. An article in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences shows that using cold water can have local anesthetic-like effects for pain relief. Why? Because cold water can cause blood vessels to constrict, helping to reduce any swelling that may cause pain. Cold water can also slow the speed at which nerve signals conduct impulses, reducing the rate at which nerves transmit pain signals to the brain, lowering a person’s perception of pain.
- Can make an individual feel more alert by creating a sense of invigoration, which may prompt you to be more physically active;
- Increases the body’s metabolism since the body now has to work harder to maintain a stable temperature;
- Boosts the Immune System. A study in the PLOS One journal, found that people who take cold showers are 29% less likely to call in sick for work or school. 3,018 people were engaged in the study, which looked at the impact of warm showers vs. alternating between hot and cold water for 30–90 seconds. The researchers concluded that cold showers might make a person’s illness feel less severe, allowing them to continue with their daily activities.
- Boosts Your Mood. Another study in Medical Hypotheses suggests a relationship between cold showers and the release of endorphins – the “feel good” hormones. This is because the cold water activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases the availability of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and endorphins.
All significant benefits. And I want to heal. Fast.
Starting the Cold Water Therapy
So how did I start? By reducing the temperature of the water to a lukewarm level, letting my body adjust to that and then lowering the temperature slightly until it was cold enough to make me shiver.
I then adjusted my breathing (made it faster) and made sure that I stayed under the cold water for at least a minute.
The goal is to get to the point where my body has adjusted enough that I can withstand almost ice-cold water for 5 minutes. It may take a while to get there, but I will. My strategy is to start every shower at the coldest that I can take it, let my body adjust and then lower the temperature and repeat the process above.
In between, I plan on alternating between hot and cold to “shock” my system and get it better able to regulate itself, enhancing my healing capabilities.
Will it work? Only time will tell. And so will I…in future posts.
Here were my meals today:
Breakfast – Coffee
Mid morning – Nada
Lunch – Mixed Green salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and avocado
Mid afternoon – Nada
Dinner – Mixed Green salad with olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, walnuts and avocado
For Day 15 of my 75 Hard Journey, go here