Author Topic: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap  (Read 5570 times)

Offline costello

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Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« on: November 13, 2011, 08:00:09 AM »
I've been taking cold showers for a few weeks now. I've replaced my regular morning shower with a cold shower. So I'm not only aiming to get cold, I also want to get clean. I don't feel quite as clean after these showers, and I'm not sure why. I considered the possibility that I'm avoiding spending enough time on places like behind the ears, because they're more sensitive. But now I've made a point of being sure I get those areas.

One thing I noticed immediately is that the bar soap I use doesn't suds up the way it did when I was bathing in warm water. Would that make a difference? Has anyone changed soaps to something that's easier to use or more effective with cold water? I've considered switching to a liquid soap.

Any thoughts?

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2011, 08:34:40 AM »
Hi costello,

An infrequent warm shower every week or two, or when you get particularly sweaty, is not a bad idea. It doesn't seem to significantly disrupt the benefits of cold showers most of the time.  You may be right that certain soaps and shampoos are less effective in cold water.  I've found that a coconut oil based soap provides good soaping action even at cold temperatures.  I use Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap, available at many markets:
http://bit.ly/shO2Be

Todd

Offline costello

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Re: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 12:28:13 PM »
Thanks. I'll look for that soap.

I have to say I don't trust myself to take a warm shower just yet. I'm afraid if I have a warm shower I'll never be able to force myself back to cold ones.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2011, 07:30:14 AM »
I personally like to take showers that switch between hot (actually more like warm) and cold. For example, I might start out warm and end cold. To me this allows the best of both worlds.

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2011, 11:07:24 AM »
I personally like to take showers that switch between hot (actually more like warm) and cold. For example, I might start out warm and end cold. To me this allows the best of both worlds.

shadowfoot,

It's a very interesting question as to whether contrast baths (alternation between hot and cold within the same showering or bathing session) provide similar benefits to a regimen of purely (or mostly) cold water exposure.  Contrast baths probably do provide some benefits to circulation (alternating vasodilation and vasoconstriction) and they no doubt improve tolerance to both heat and cold.  But when I've tried contrast baths, I notice that the "numbing" effect of warm water tends to inoculate you against deeply experiencing the subsequent cold chill. And similarly, a dip in the cold tends to buffer you against feeling the subsequent heat so intensely.  It is almost as if the rapid contrasting temperatures merely numb your experience of extreme temperatures.

Going beyond the merely subjective, does this "inoculation" effect from warm or hot water result in less shivering and reduced thermogenesis when plunging into the cold?  And if so, does it reduce the benefits?

I've also noticed (and commented before) that taking only cold showers allows my tolerance and subjective benefits to progress over days and weeks.  If I insert even a single warm or hot shower, I take a slight step back in tolerance, which I notice the next time I take a cold shower.  If  I do this only once every 2 weeks or so, the loss is transient and insignificant.  But I suspect that if I were to take several warm showers in a row in the course of a few days, I would lose a lot of ground.  So there seems to be some degree of "memory" involved in cold tolerance.

I would be interest in learning about any objetive or subjective comparisons between pure cold exposure and alternating exposure to hot and cold.

Todd

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Practical question re: cold showers - Soap
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2011, 01:48:59 AM »
Todd,

I believe that when I said I got the best of both worlds, I was referring to a different aspect of the cold and hot showers than you were. For me, warmer showers are nice because they are relaxing and cold showers are nice because they are refreshing. A warm-cold shower allows me to relax and then get energized, whereas a merely cold shower doesn't allow for that pleasant relaxation and a purely hot shower leaves me tired.

I highly doubt that cold water combined with warm or hot water in a shower like this has anywhere near the physiological benefits of a purely cold shower. The initial exposure to the cold water is always the most intense moment. If this is replaced by warm water, the later cold water will not be as much of a shock. Likewise, if a cold shower is ended on a hot note it would seriously dampen the physiological response to the cold water. That is, at least, with regard to showers.

I think a recent experience of mine might shed some light on the effect of alternating very hot and very cold temperatures in a different setting. I recently spent a few hours in a European bathhouse (Baden-Baden, to be precise), where there were pools from quite warm to quite cold, and saunas from hot to melting your skin off. I spend the majority of my time in the warmer pools and saunas, punctuated every so often by a brief dip into a cold pool. While with showers, it has been my observation that warm or hot water buffers me against the cold, the more intense and prolonged heat of the saunas had the opposite effect. I found that the longer I stayed in the saunas, the less time I could comfortably stay in the cold pools.

Perhaps this is because short term heat increases skin temperature, which acts as a buffer against the cold, but longer term heat causes the body to shut down heat production, leading to reduced cold tolerance.