Hydrotherapy is one of my favorite treatment recommendations because it’s free (excluding the water bill), simple and can achieve great results. Contrast showers essentially are alternating hot and cold water on the body.
When we expose ourselves to cold temperatures, the superficial arteries constrict and tighten. This tightening of the blood vessels, also known as vasoconstriction causes blood flow toward vital internal organs in order to conserve heat.
When exposed to heat, our superficial blood vessels widen and dilate. This increases blood flow away from the central organs and closer to the skin (also as a temperature regulation reflex).
By combining the effects of vasoconstriction and vasodilation through cold and hot water exposure, our overall blood circulation is improved. This improvement in blood circulation through contrast showering could be the key component that causes most of the benefits.
This can be hard to convince people to do because no one really enjoys cold water being doused on their body, but after you’ve done it a few times you get used to the cold and you may even crave cold showers!
Benefits of Contrast Showers:
- Improves circulation
- Boosts immunity – increase T cell and monocyte count (awesome for cold and flu prevention)
- Improves depression symptoms
- Increases energy and sense of well-being
- Keeps skin and hair healthy
- Increases metabolism
- Helps prevent and relieve muscle pain
- Improves mental stamina and willpower. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a fight. This test of will can be translated from the shower, to everyday life struggles.
- Begin shower with approximately 2-3 minutes warm/hot water, concentrating water flow on any affected areas.
- Switch to cold water (as cold as can be tolerated) for approximately 30 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 at least three times more, for a total of 4 (or more) cycles of hot then cold water, attempting to increase the contrast each cycle.
- The treatment should always end with cold water.
- Dry thoroughly and rest for 10 minutes.