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Is your next race tipped to be hot? Do you suffer in the heat? Could hot water immersion be something you can add to your preparation?
Acclimatising to hot conditions has posed challenging scenarios for many athletes and coaches in the past. Traditionally, many athletes would perform intense exercise in the heat. This could involve training in the middle of the day or in artificially hot climate chambers to acclimatise. However, this practice produces inconsistent results, can be expensive (either using chambers or traveling to hot climates before the event), impractical (no access to hot conditions), and somewhat risky if it is performed in the taper phase of the preparation.
There are studies coming thru seeing post exercise hot water immersion having larger adaptations and adaptations being held for longer, compared to traditional intense exercise in heat. Some studies are showing adaptations from hot water immersion being maintained for 2 weeks allowing athletes to perform tapers without any interventions.
Hot water immersion involves bathing up to your neck in 40c water for 40 minutes post exercise for six consecutive days, up to 14 days prior to your event. It is brutal. Having had an athlete go thru the protocol – be warned, it is tough!!
Like all research and interventions there is counter research. Those who live in already hot conditions may not benefit as much, if at all, and the more trained the athlete, the smaller the advantages (this is a pretty standard trend – but the more trained the athlete, the more the accumulation of small advantages is critical).
My advise is N=1… Talk with your coach and see if this is relevant to your race. Maybe test it in a “C” or “B” race, or before a testing week. My rule of thumb is nothing new on race day – which extends out to tapers – if you want to experiment – awesome - just pick the appropriate time. Also, I really believe knowledge is power so here are some papers pasted below, on Hot Water Immersion, for you to geek out on. Happy reading!!
Image source: VCG Photo
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