What Is Contrast Shower
Contrast shower is also known as contrast hydrotherapy and is an alternation of hot and cold water immersion for certain amount of time. It can range from a few seconds to a few minutes.
In ancient times, samurai warriors would start their day by pouring buckets of cold river water on their heads every morning as part of the Shinto spiritual practice called “Misogi”.
The contrast bathing was also very popular throughout the Roman Empire, it was done by moving through a series of heated rooms culminating in a cold plunge at the end it was used for cleaning and invigorating as well as for medicinal purposes.
In modern times, the alternation of temperature (cold and hot) is kept in most saunas and spas around the world and it became popular due to it’s notable health benefits.
Contrast Shower Technique
You can get the same benefits at home under the shower. First adjust the water temperature comfortable for your body, then switch to hot water and warm your body for 2-3 minutes then switch to cold for 20 seconds, repeat the cycle 5-7 times and increase the time under cold water up to 1 minute.
Working up a tolerance to hot and cold water will take some time, start with less cold water and work your way up to ice cold. With time you will notice you are better at handling extremes, both hot and cold.
Note that the treatment should always end with cold water, as heat will induce the body’s inflammatory response, while cold helps to decrease inflammation.
Contrast Shower Benefits
1. Increase in perceived energy levels. The cold water gets your heart pumping and the rush of blood through your body helps wake you up better then a cup of coffee!
2. The immune system is stimulated by the body trying to warm itself up, in response, metabolic rate speeds (up by 350% observed in a study) and more white blood cells are released into the body to help fight off potential infections. Researches at Britain’s Thrombosis Research observed an increase in two types of white blood cells: monocytes and lymphocytes (help to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and toxins).
3. When toxins are removed from your body, your immune system is better able to focus on controlling viruses, bacteria and infections. There is also a significant co-morbidity of schizophrenia with intestinal illnesses and thus colon cleansing by detoxifing can significantly improve mental state.
4. It has significant analgesic effect by stimulating the release of endorphins (body’s natural pain killer hormones) and reducing swelling. When you combine the endorphin release from cold water with the relaxing affect of hot water you may get temporary relief from discomfort after a workout and it does not cause dependence or noticeable side effects. In a 2016 study the contrast baths have been proven to be an effective treatment for injury management: pain reduction and swelling.
5. Healthier skin by improving skin blood flow and work of your perspiration glands. Toxins that have nowhere else to go but through your skin appear in the form of blemishes at the beginning and by regularly increasing your circulation and stimulating the skin with hot and cold water will allow your skin to clear out what become stuck in certain areas. In addition, cold water tightens cuticles and pores leaving a healthier complexion.
6. Stimulating circulation in the lymphatic system which unlike the circulatory system, lacks a central pump. Excess fluid is funneled by the lymph system to lymph nodes in the area, flushing toxins and pathogens out of the area, so this will reduce buildup of fluids and ease inflammation.
7. The deep breathing in response to our body’s shock helps us keep warm, as it increases our overall oxygen intake, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases observed some improvements.
8. Improves nervous system activity by decreasing anxiety and activating parasympathetic nerve activity. Practical testing showed that the cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively . Moreover during a study dopamine concentrations were increased by 250%.