Four benefits of Contrast Hydrotherapy

Contrast showers, sometimes also known as contrast hydrotherapy, are showers in which our body temperature changes from hot to cold and back again by alternating between hot then cold water.

A contrast shower usually consists of three to five complete cycles of hot and cold water. The hot water causes blood vessels to dilate, thereby pushing the blood to the skin’s surface, and cold water causes blood vessels to constrict, causing the blood to go deeper into organs.

It is recommended to start with a hot phase and turn the temperature up as hot as is tolerable for one to three minutes. Then, turn the temperature down to very cold for 30-60 seconds. A cycle should always start with hot water and end with cold water.

Key Benefits

According to the studies of many experts and the experiences of both elite and amateur athletes, the most common benefits of contrast showers are the following.

  1. Boost circulation
  2. Boost immune system
  3. Prevent muscle soreness
  4. Combat depression

1. Boost circulation

The heart increases circulation when subjected to contrasting temperatures causing it to send blood quickly to the vital organs. This process involves a protection mechanism from our body which tries to maintain its natural core temperature: when it senses a sudden drop in temperature, the blood has to circulate faster to protect our organs. Over time, contrast shower forces the circulatory system to become more efficient and adaptable.

2. Boost immune system

Many studies show that the contrast in temperature increases the number of disease-fighting immune system cells in our body, including an important type of white blood cell called monocytes.

3. Prevent muscle soreness

High and low temperatures can have a substantial influence on the quantity of blood flow to the inflamed tissues. Cold temperatures cause blood vessels to shrink or tighten up, reducing blood flow and thus inflammation.

Heat, on the other hand, causes vasodilation by widening blood vessels and allowing more blood to flow to affected tissues. This is especially important following intense exercise so to prevent related possible injuries.

4. Combat depression

Contrast showers may help reduce depression or low mood by boosting the flow of blood to the brain. Cold exposure increases our levels of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins have a pain-relieving effect, lowering our perception of discomfort. The stimulating effect of endorphins also boosts feelings of well-being.

When to take contrast showers

Though there haven’t been quite enough studies to say whether or not contrast showers will significantly improve our health, they’re for sure a great way to get an instant energy boost in the morning. In the beginning, we might find cold water very painful to stand, but after the first few days, we will get used to the sensations and might even come to appreciate them.

If you are not willing to take constant showers every day, they are however strongly recommended after an intense workout or a race to speed up the recovery process.


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