Some Like It Hot

Cross-country skiing in Colorado

Some Like It Hot

Reap the health benefits of pre- and post-sport soaking in Colorado’s hot springs. Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs has 16 soaking pools for relieving workout aches and pains.

Colorado’s close proximity of cold snow and hot springs gives skiers a chance for an invigorating warmup before they hit the slopes as well as a relaxing finish as they recover from the day.

Soaking in hot springs can help your body both before and after a workout.

The benefits of a soak ahead of time are widely recognized. Warm water opens your blood vessels, boosting blood flow and relaxing your muscles so you’re more energetic and flexible. You can stretch those muscle during the soak or after for added benefit.

Some experts suggest an ice bath rather than a hot soak after the strenuous exercise because it constricts the blood vessels, reducing inflammation, and even numbing the pain of soreness. It’s probably a good idea to let your body cool down right after the exertion, but recent research has challenged the conventional ice bath wisdom and suggested there are benefits to getting in hot water.

A 2015 report in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, focused on athletes who train in cold locations and perform in hot weather, concluded that hot baths instead of ice could help the body adjust to hot weather later. Besides, said the senior author Neil Walsh, director of the Extremes Research Group at Bangor University in Wales, “hot water feels better.”

“A hot soak is comfortable for aching limbs,” he told The Globe and Mail, “and there are other supposed health benefits – think Roman spas.”

Another study, “Post-exercise recovery of contractile function and endurance in humans is accelerated by heating and slowed by cooling skeletal muscle,” that was published in December 2017 in The Journal of Physiology, concluded that the hot soak is more beneficial because it speeds the production of glycogen, a form of glucose that is important for storing energy in the body.

The nice thing about Colorado and Iron Mountain Hot Springs in particular, is you can have it both ways. Warm up in the morning, ski in the cold all day, and relax with a hot evening soak.

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Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe was a reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for 13 years and head of the writing program at Trinity School at Greenlawn, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Ind., for 10 years before he became a full-time freelance writer in 2008. His first book, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, was published in 2006. He lives in Monroe, N.C.
Gene Stowe

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