In November, I talked briefly about contrast showers. Well, now that I am fully immersed into the fascinating world of hydrotherapy, I have learned much more regarding their mechanism of action, their role in toxicity, and their overall importance...
Contrast showers are a very important tool in preventative medicine. They have wonderful systemic effects on the body, including increased immunity, vitality, alertness, and detoxification. When taken in the morning, the "shock" of the cold water portion of the contrast shower will help wake-up the whole body. Even if after reading this post you still don't feel inclined to start contrasting water temperatures in the shower, at least try to end the shower with some cold water to get your vessels open again!
How they work:
Long, hot water treatments decrease circulation (aka vasoconstriction) but increase metabolism, so toxins and wastes start building up but are not drained due to the constricted circulation. However, short, cold water treatments cause the body to increase circulation (aka vasodilation). This is why a hot shower (which releases toxins) should be concluded with cold water in order to open circulation up again, allowing the toxins to be drained. Have you ever had a long, hot shower and felt a bit of nausea near the end? This is neither the heat nor morning hunger causing this yucky feeling, but the build-up of toxins whose release was stimulated by the hot water! Similarly, this is why it is so important to take a quick cold shower after leaving a hot tub or a sauna.
How to perform:
- After entering the shower, wash with hot water for 1-3 minutes
- Wash with cold water for 10-30 seconds (as cold as you can handle)
- Return to washing with hot water for another 1 minute
- Repeat the hot-cold cycle once more
- Finish the shower with 10-30 seconds of cold water
- Overtime, try to increase the temperature of the cold water as well as the amount of time spent in the cold
- Note: the number of hot and cold cycles may increase or decrease depending on the length of the shower