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Most of us go around, doing different physical activities. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, the common factor is that we often sweat, make our muscles, joints, tendons, ligament, etc work harder than normal.

Specifically, working out, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, cycling, running, mountaineering, playing sports involving moving/running, etc.

If the weather is normal (where a hot or cold shower would be equally comfortable) what is most favorable to our body, especially to the parts we exert the most (muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments) during such activity?

Is it a hot or cold shower?

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This might be a better question for Physical Fitness. –  Ben Crowell Feb 5 at 0:07
    
I believe that having a cold shower at elevated body temperature (e.g. after strenuous activity as summer) could be lethal. Can't be sure, though, no one that I know died this way. –  Vorac Feb 11 at 16:03
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The answer depends on your sccenario, if you have access to an ice bath/cold shower within minutes of your activity that is your best bet as Liam has stated above.

However, if you are unable to have an ice bath/cold shower directly following your activity there is an alternative. Some of us may have to take a bus home after the gym, drive our car, or simply where we are partaking in strenuous activity has no showering facility! What you need to do is get to a bath/shower and use HOT water for 4-6 minutes, after that you are going to switch it to as COLD as possible for as long as possible, usually thirty seconds to two minutes. This was explained to me by my cousin who is a doctor, I asked her the same question and unfortunately the climbing gym I frequent does not have showering facilities.

The hot shower loosens you up again gets the blood flowing and then the sudden cold is the purge/re-oxygenation of the muscle tissue. It is worth a read.

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I'm a fan of a cold bath (ice bath if you can stand it). My understanding is that the contraction of the muscles that happens as they get cold forces out things like lactic acid thus improving your recovery and preventing injury.

It's not everyone's cup of tea I admit though.

Done a quick google on the actual benefit of this and it does seem to have some scientific reasoning and apparently prevents "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness".

Study highlighting benefits

Contrast water therapy was associated with a smaller reduction, and faster restoration, of strength and power measured by isometric force and jump squat production following DOMS-inducing leg press exercise when compared to PAS. Therefore, CWT seems to be effective in reducing and improving the recovery of functional deficiencies that result from DOMS, as opposed to passive recovery.

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30 years ago my gym teacher told me that muscle soreness was due to lactic acid buildup. However, my understanding is that the modern scientific evidence is against this claim. Soreness is now thought to be caused by microscopic damage that happens during eccentric contraction. –  Ben Crowell Feb 4 at 21:08
    
Maybe, I wasn't 100% sure myself which I why I went hunting for evidence. All I can categorically say is that if I've been doing lots of exercise (I find it particularly useful after a long mountain bike ride) a really cold bath makes me feel much better and less sore. –  Liam Feb 5 at 8:44
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