T Nation

Water Contrast for Recovery

I first read about this in Bill Romanowski’s book. There was a section where he described filling 2 tubs in the trainers room, one with very hot water and the other with very cold water.

He then alternated getting in and out of each for awhile. He talked in the book about how this was a great treatment for recovery from the tough NFL rigors.

Can anyone tell me exactly how this helps you and whether its a good practice for someone looking to gain muscle recovery for bodybuilding style workouts. In addition is it good for injury prevention and healing overused joints?

If so what would be a good protocol to use? I do not have 2 tubs next to each other to fill.

Search for contrast shower. It’s been described in a couple of recovery articles written for T-Nation.

To my knowledge the cold ice water will constrict the blood vessels, then when you enter the warm or room temperature water, the blood vessels dilate allowing more blood flow to happen throughout the muscle.

This aids in getting rid of lactic acid build up, and getting fresh oxygenated blood into the muscle.

There may be other effects going on as well, perhaps for example with the nervous system.

I don’t have access to genuinely cold water (without going to a fuss that I’m not going to do such as hauling a trash can and ice to the gym) but only to a “cold” shower, which is probably about 72 degrees F, which is not actually cold.

Still, it does seem to me – can’t prove it, but it seems to me – that I get a recovery benefit from, postworkout, doing two cycles of 12 min or so in the heated whirlpool alternated with 5 minutes in the “cold” shower.

I had the priveledge of going to the late Mel Siff’s house for his “Supertraining” Seminar. One of the things we did was use his custom hottub and unheated swimming pool. Bill Romonowski by the way trained with Siff often and might have picked this up from him.

The tub was at 108 and the pool was unheated in Colorado…in December and while this is anecdotal, after a grueling 2 hour workout/info session we did some contrast bathing with his setup.

Very Effective. finish in the cold and you will feel ready to lift again already, finish in the hot and you will be passed out within 10 minutes. Both ways we woke up the next morning feeling great and ready to workout hard again.

I’ve tried to some of my own contrast with hot and cold showers- and it’s just not the same- really need to have super cold and very hot for it to be effective.

It does nothing. Study from English institute of Sport:

Neither contrast bathing nor compression acted to promote acute recovery from EIMD any more effectively than passive conditions, although contrast bathing may transiently attenuate postexercise soreness.

It can be a little extreme and unwarranted to make flat-out statements based on a scientific study that failed to find anything in their specific case, the specific way they did it and had their subjects do things, and with the specific measurements they took.

For example I could with just as much basis post, if someone had posted that in his experience anabolic steroids help gain muscle and improve performance,

“Anabolic steroids do nothing to increase muscle mass or enhance athletic performance. Measurements of nitrogen balance, body composition by potassium-40 isotopic analysis, blah blah blah…”

and then cite at least 50 studies all finding that anabolic steroids didn’t do anything in their study. AT LEAST fifty.

But the conclusion would be wrong, nonetheless.

Your providing the link is good, and thank you, but coming to a be-all end-all conclusion from it isn’t warranted.

I first learnt about contrast therapy in Yr 12 PE and wanted to try it straight away. At first I did it in the shower but when we renovated the bathroom I kept the old tub outside for the cold portion and just used the shower for the hot portion.

[quote]Short Hoss wrote:
It does nothing. Study from English institute of Sport:

Neither contrast bathing nor compression acted to promote acute recovery from EIMD any more effectively than passive conditions, although contrast bathing may transiently attenuate postexercise soreness.

I wouldn’t base my opinions on just the one study. Coming to a conclusion of “It does nothing” is just narrow minded. Have you tried contrast therapy yourself before you say it doesn’t work because these guys said so.

Also if I think it works and I dont feel as sore if I take a cold and hot shower I’ll keep doing it unless I see some irrefutable proof telling not to, from multiple sources.

I’ve heard that adding epson salt to each tub may increase the positive effects. Whatever the study says, many athletes (including most of the eastern block) seem to think that contrast baths are worth doing.