You are totally into running. But what about your post-run recovery? We have so far introduced the importance and effects of stretching and massage after running, however, there are still many runners who do little for post-run treatment. A survey also reveals that many runners “do nothing in particular” or “just take a bath” as their post-run body care. Well, if so then, what’s so good about a bath? Would showering work well enough if it’s just about warming up your body? Today, we ask Ms. Maki Shirato, a researcher of Shiseido Basic Research Center about the merits of post-run baths and the proper way of taking them.
Three keys to recovery: buoyancy, water pressure and warmth!
Bathing rather than showering against post-run fatigue
To begin with, why does a bath relieve muscle soreness after a run? The answer is, mainly because it boosts blood circulation. Ms. Shirato explains that due to vigorous exercise, muscles accumulate fatigue substances and that worsens blood circulation, resulting in stiff muscles. A bath improves blood circulation and helps remove the fatigue substances. Well, another question then arises: can a shower be as effective to boost blood circulation? “Actually a bath relieves muscle fatigue better than a shower. While sitting in a bathtub, you get the specific effects of bathing; buoyancy, water pressure and warmth,” says Ms. Shirato.
In a bathtub, the body is in a state of floating. It doesn’t get affected by gravity and weighs less, resulting in better relaxation of the muscles.
The body gets affected by water pressure from all directions during a bath, and that has a massage-like effect on sore muscles and helps improve blood circulation.
The whole body gets warm and the capillary vessels expand, boosting blood circulation and removing fatigue substances.
“A shower also gives you “water pressure” and “warmth”, but only to a limited extent and with a much weaker effect compared to a bath, and a shower has no effect of “buoyancy”. A bath gives a good balance of the three,” concludes Ms. Shirato.
Lukewarm bath for 10-20 minutes
to relieve muscles fatigue
Here, we introduce an effective way of taking a bath to alleviate muscle fatigue. Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water of 38-40oC and soak for 10-20 minutes. Lukewarm water helps alleviate muscle fatigue by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, one of the branches of our autonomic nervous system. If the water temperature is higher, or if you are bathing the whole body, shorten the bathing time, whereas if the water is colder or if you are having a hip bath, bathe for a longer time. Of course, feeling cold or dizzy is a sign of adverse effects so you need to listen to your body and have a comfortable bath time.
Things to remember when bathing
Ms. Shirato also shares the things to remember when treating yourself to a bath. “Contrast bath, immersing the body in the hot and cold water alternatingly, is an effective treatment that activates the autonomic nervous system and improves blood circulation, opening up and constricting blood vessels. However, abrupt changes in the temperature may damage the heart and muscles, thus you must check your condition before a contrast bath. Also if you are feeling acute pain in the muscles after running or worse, have twisted your ankle or had an injury, do refrain from a bath. It is important to cool down the affected area first.” (Ms. Shirato)
Master the proper way of taking post-run baths to relieve the fatigue and become a tireless runner!
（Photo By Thinkstock / Getty Images）
Researcher of Shiseido Basic Research Center. Certified as health science adviser by the Japanese Society of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine. Engaged in developing beauty related software based on health science including sports, nutrition and relaxation, as well as researching the physical and mental effects of makeup.
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