Asian woman putting water in a gym locker room

The rules of showering after rigorous exercise aren’t black and white. While the merits of washing up after a grimy gym session seem obvious, in the Philippines, we have something called “pasma,” which makes things a little more complicated. We’re clearing up the cold air by finally answering this question: is it okay to take a bath after a workout?

So, Is It Okay to Take a Bath After a Workout?

If you ask yourself if it’s okay to take a bath after a workout, always choose the side of personal hygiene.

The answer is a whole-hearted yes. Let’s be honest, neglecting to wash isn’t exactly a hygienic decision, especially when you live in a humid country like the Philippines. A more appropriate question, however, is when you should wash.

Numerous studies reveal that you shouldn’t hop into the shower right after intense exercise. Cool down after a workout first and wait until your heart rate and body temperature stabilize. Water temperature is also a factor. Hot showers can dry your skin and weaken your hair. In fact, a 2013 survey in Sports Medicine shows that the benefits of hot-water baths are inconclusive.

You must have seen athletes in films or shows immersing themselves in ice-water baths. In 2019, the Journal of Strength of Conditioning Research published a study on high-intensity cyclists in warm environments. Findings showed that cold water showers have favorable cardiovascular and hormonal effects during recovery from exercise. A 2017 study in the Journal of Physiology also confirms that it can reduce muscle inflammation caused by rigorous physical activity.

But What About Pasma?

Pasma is a folk illness in the Philippines supposedly caused by a hot and cold imbalance in the body.

A shorthand description for pasma is a hot and cold imbalance in the body. It refers to muscle spasms that occur when tired, “hot” muscles interact with the “cold,” such as ice water or a brisk breeze. It’s the reason many Filipinos don’t wash their hands after ironing or shower after a massage or a hard run. However, it is a contested medical issue, with physicians dismissing it as a folk illness.

Whether or not you believe pasma is real doesn’t matter. As you know by now, the expert recommendation is to wait for your body temperature to normalize before you shower, saving you from the “hot and cold interaction” that supposedly causes pasma. So, don’t skip the light stretch or cool down in your post-workout routine.

The Benefits of a Post-Exercise Shower

Showering after rolling around on a yoga mat or jogging outdoors feels like a no-brainer, but its functions go beyond sanitation.

It saves you from soreness.

Exercise can cause your muscles to swell, which could lead to DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Cold water can reduce this inflammation. It also triggers the blood vessels to constrict, helping your body flush out the fatigue-causing lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during exercise. An immersive soak has many therapeutic effects, but a quick shower offers the same outcome after a workout.

It prevents clogged pores.

Sweat can lead to clogged pores which can set off body acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you should wash off sweat after working out to get rid of bacteria, acne-causing or otherwise. Dove Care & Protect is a body wash that washes away 99% of bacteria thanks to its Anti-bac technology and green tea. It also has Dove’s signature ¼ moisturizing cream to pamper your skin after your hard work.

If you can’t shower right away, the AAD recommends wiping down with wipes or, at the very least, patting down with a clean towel. Also, changing into fresh clothes to avoid bacteria buildup.

Is it okay to take a bath after a workout? Yes. Remember, personal hygiene is everything, especially these days.