Contrast Bathing Does Not Improve Markers Of Muscle Recovery

(Photo: Koichi Kamoshida)

So not only does Japan get hyper-speed internet and all generations of the Skyline GTR, but they also have chocolate baths. I’m pissed.

Now, I’m a fan of a hot bath as much as the next guy. It’s to the point where I’ve answered phone calls in the bath that weren’t of the seedy nature, only to have my friends amused at the sloshing water. On top of being generally relaxing, I’ve always felt it helped me recover from a workout, especially if I took a cool shower shortly afterwards.

Turns out I was fooling myself.

A new study from the England Institute of Sport indicates that there is no improvement in recovery markers from contrast bathing:

CONCLUSION: No hierarchy of recovery effects was found. Neither contrast bathing nor compression acted to promote acute recovery from EIMD any more effectively than passive conditions…

However, and here’s what most people might notice…

…although contrast bathing may transiently attenuate postexercise soreness.

I’ve told my clients for years now that soreness isn’t an indicator of a good workout. I should have also been more clear that a lack of soreness doesn’t mean they’re fully recovered. Doesn’t matter; I’ll still bath…you know, for the hygiene and such.

What helps you recover from a hard workout?

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