Exercise Recovery Part 3: Beyond the Cold Trend

Elevate Your Recovery Game with Cold

Welcome back to our blog series exploring exercise recovery, fitness enthusiasts! After discussing the vital roles of nutrition and compression in a training and recovery program, it’s time to take a plunge into the icy depths of advanced techniques that will set your performance on fire! 

woman wearing winter attire sitting at the edge of a frozen lake
Melanie Webb at Merrick Lake, Vermejo Ted Turner Reserve, New Mexico. Photo Credit: Deann McBride.

Cold Water Immersion – The Chilling Magic 

In case you’re new to the cold trend–get ready for the exhilarating world of cold water immersion. It’s not just about embracing the chill; it’s the enchanting magic that unfolds after. Embrace the stress responses – they’re the signals your body needs for a swift recovery, decreased fatigue perception, and minimal muscle damage (Peterson, 2021).

But here’s the icy truth – too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. Regular cold dips can hinder muscle hypertrophy and strength. Striking the right balance is key to unlocking its benefits. Take a 10-minute plunge at 50 degrees post-workout for the perfect recovery elixir. For long-term effects, aim for 54-57 degrees for 10-15 minutes, maximizing adaptation without compromising strength.

Sauna – Heat Up for Endurance 

Get ready to turn up the heat with sauna therapy. Elevate your stress response, create an adaptation, and increase your core temperature and sweating. Whether you prefer a dry, steam, or infrared sauna, the choice is yours. Short-term use may cause a dip in immediate performance, but the long-term benefits are worth the heat.

Remember, heat decreases nervous system fatigue, making it challenging for short-term performance. Cold might be your go-to for an immediate event, but sauna takes the spotlight for long-term endurance and aerobic capacity.

Contrast Therapy – The Hot-Cold Symphony

Now, let’s dance to the rhythm of contrast therapy – an exhilarating combo of hot and cold sensations! This dynamic duo, ranging from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit to a toasty 95-105 degrees, offers a greater short-term recovery boost. Think of it as a refreshing cooldown after a hot workout, mimicking the benefits of cold-water immersion while keeping things interesting.

This symphony of temperature changes is perfect if you feel like shying away from a full-on cold-water experience. Dive into the cold for about a minute, allowing your body to revel in the contrast and boost your performance encore. My favorite format, one which I led while guiding at Amangiri Resort: 10 minutes in the sauna or steam room followed by 30-60 seconds cold plunge.

My favorite format: 10 minutes in the sauna or steam room followed by 30-60 seconds cold plunge.

Melanie Webb

Exercise recovery techniques to be used at any time:

  • Programming
  • Breathing
  • Sleep
  • nutrition

Exercise recovery techniques for strength training / DOMS / muscle damage:

  • Compression
  • water immersion
  • Vibration
  • Massage
  • SMFR (self myofascial release)

Exercise recovery techniques for cardio training / inflammation:

  • Active recovery 
  • CWI / cryo
  • Contrast therapy
  • Sauna 

In Case You Missed It

Exercise Recovery Part One: Nutrition explored the importance of staying hydrated, including when to eat during and after a workout. 

Exercise Recovery Part Two: Compression delved into the various ways to use compression to speed recovery time. 

What are you waiting for? Get with WebbWell and give your exercise recovery and sports performance a boost.

About Melanie Webb and WebbWell

Named “The person to call” by DEPARTURES Magazine, “a leader in the adventure travel industry” by Norie Quintos of National Geographic Traveler, and “one of the top trainers in the industry” by The Sports Club/LA (now Equinox), Melanie Webb is the founder and creator of WebbWell and the WebbWell wellness app. A sought-after industry and corporate retreat facilitator and speaker, her fitness course Mother Nature’s Gym Outdoor Fitness Guide is approved for 1.6 CEC’s from American Council on Exercise.

Special thanks to Auburn Jackman