Cold showers vs. hot showers: which one do you prefer after a surf session? Photo: Surfing

Whether it's sunny or rainy, it always feels good to have a shower after a strenuous winter surf session. But, should we get under cold or hot water? Is that really obvious?

We all know how good a hot shower feels. Warm water helps us recover our body temperature and truly relaxes our body, no matter the air temperature or the time of the day.

Today, you can find pressurized portable showers that will store cold or hot water and then, when you need it, provide several minutes of spray time.

If you're a lucky portable shower owner, you can always open the car's trunk and enjoy a prolonged shower in front of the beach or a parking lot surrounded by envious fellow wave riders.

But the heated debate is still on. Which one is better? What are the pros and cons of cold and hot showers? What should you do after a surf session?

The Benefits of Cold Showers

The health benefits of a cold shower (68-86 °F or 20-30 °C) are as follows:

  1. Improves the Immune System: Cold water stimulates the human body to produce white blood cells, which will combat foreign threats and protect us against infectious diseases;
  2. Activates Blood Circulation: Cold water is truly effective when it comes to pumping blood and clearing arteries that may be blocked;
  3. Speeds Up Physical Recovery and Muscle Soreness: Ice baths and cold water are known and popular among high-performance athletes because they are a temporary pain relief after an intense workout;
  4. Increases Mental Alertness: There's nothing like a cold shower in the morning to take our breath away and wake us up;
  5. Accelerates Weight Loss: Low water temperatures speed up our metabolism and help burn calories fast;
  6. Hydrates and Improves Skin and Hair Quality: Cold water will seal the scalp and tighten our pores and cuticles, preventing them from getting clogged;
  7. Relieves Tension and Stress: People who regularly take cold showers develop defense mechanisms against stressful events and tense moments;
  8. Helps with Depressive States: Cold water activates the sympathetic nervous system, increases blood flow to the brain, increases blood levels of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline, and stimulates the cold receptors in the skin, sending electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain;

Cold water surfing: when you're done, a hot shower is mandatory | Photo: Shutterstock

The downside with cold showers is that they won't warm you up after a winter session and won't do any good to your immune system when you're already cold.

Additionally, in cold water surfing environments, your body temperature can easily fall below 90°F (32°C), which means a moderate level of hypothermia.

In this particular case, hot water is the only advisable and acceptable option.

The Benefits of Hot Showers

Therefore, the health benefits of hot showers (95-104 °F or 35-40 °C) are:

  1. Warms Up the Muscles: Hot water stimulates our muscles like a pre-surf workout;
  2. Relaxes Neck and Shoulders: A hot shower will relieve your aching neck and shoulder tendons after an extended surfing session;
  3. Reduces Shivering: Hot water is the best weapon against the first signs of hypothermia;
  4. Relieves Cold Symptoms and Coughs: Hot water gets your circulation going and will provide relief to flu symptoms;

Unfortunately, hot showers tend to dry your hair and skin, so they will not always be the ideal option.

You can also try the so-called contrast showers. Get yourself under three minutes of hot water, and then stay one minute under cold water. Repeat it three or four times.

The warm water will open your blood vessels and flush the body with blood.

As you switch to lower temperatures, blood will rush inward to warm and protect the internal organs from the cold.

Contrast showers improve circulation and boost the immune system, so if you're courageous enough to try one, add it to your surf training program and adopt it regularly.

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