No doubt you have heard of hot/cold contrast therapy. You may have seen it on your program or read about it in a magazine. If you’re an ETPA full program athlete you would have seen it on your program, and probably used it in recovery after hard training sessions or races.
But, do you know how it works?
For those that don’t know, hot/cold contrast therapy is a recovery method which involves switching from a hot shower or pool, to a cold shower or pool 5-7 times.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) protocol suggests 30sec hot and 30sec cold, and obviously a significant difference in temperatures is required for this method to be effective.
The cold shower/immersion causes the blood vessels to constrict or vasoconstriction.
The hot shower/immersion causes the blood vessels to dilate or vasodilatation.
The repeated change from cold to hot means the blood vessels dilate and constrict, one after the other of the period of the shower, thus creating a pump or shunting.
This pumping helps to collect and then clear the waste products from the muscles and pump them back to the heart for oxygenation. Less waste product pooling in the muscles means improved recovery and ‘fresher’ legs to start the next session.
When to use Hot/Cold recovery therapy
This recovery method will always be more beneficial than no recovery at all, but will be especially effective after hard training sessions and races whereby you accumulated a lot of lactate. Examples, might be a set of 400m efforts on the running track – think of those sessions where you are working around threshold and your legs are screaming!
In next blog post – Cold water immersion for recovery, and a comparison of the two.
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