How cold water immersion assists your recovery

Source: Google Images

So you’re training for the fun run? Or any other sporting event?

So what about post training recovery?

We all know the importance of rest and sleep, and that a good diet of five veg and two fruit is the way to go. Also a portion of red meat, chicken or fish is important.

And don’t forget about a good nights sleep. That is necessary for recovery post heavy exercise too.

But what about cold water immersion (CWI)?

We know the importance of maintaining adequate fluid levels: three to four litres of water is recommended.

So too is immersion in cold water for 15 minutes and 14 degrees Celsius!

Why CWI?

It has been demonstrated cardiac autonomic modulation, or the heart returning to its normal pre exercise function, is assisted by immersion in cold water.

When we exercise, train, play sport (or react to a threatening event), we activate the sympathetic nervous system: a quick response mobilizing system, our fright, fight and flight response.

After the event the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. It is a more slowly activated dampening system and it is necessary for our body’s recovery process.

This rebalancing between the two systems reflects autonomic recovery and restoration of cardiovascular homeostasis, an important part of overall recovery.

How long after the exercise should you have CWI?

In a study published in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport for August 2016, the found 15 minutes seated waist deep in cold water at 14 degrees Celsius works! They allowed for one minute to transition from exercise to CWI. The researchers tried several time and temperature combinations commonly used strategies they identified in other research literature.

So organise your training so you’re near the ocean and take a plunge of ten to fifteen minutes. Currently the BOM site indicates the ocean temperature of Perth waters is around 18 to 20 degrees.

Anecdotally, I can say that after exercise, be it a running or gym session at the surf club, jumping into the ocean at City Beach is certainly invigorating. It may take my breath away for a couple of minutes but after a few minutes of “acclimatisation” and “adaptation” at is just great!! Follow up the 10/15-minute tea bag with a sensational hot shower and we are raring to go for the day!!

Highly recommended. Go do it!

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