Did you know different temperatures of your shower can actively improve your health status? There are many benefits that come from taking showers beyond personal hygiene. Hot and Cold Contrast Showers or contrast hydrotherapy has many advantages for your muscles, energy, cells, immune system, mood and even brain health!
What is a Hot & Cold Contrast Shower?
People have used water therapy for healing for centuries now. Using cold water for health is not new on the scene.
A hot and cold contrast shower, or contrast hydrotherapy, is done by consistently fluctuating the temperature of your shower from hot to cold in a methodical manner.
For example, for 10 minutes use warm or hot water to take your shower, then in the last part of your shower turn the water to cold for 20 seconds. Work up to withstanding 1 minute of cold water.
Hot and cold contrast showers are as simple as that!
The benefits of this therapy are found in doing it consistently. In other words, if you do this one time, you are not necessarily going to see vast health improvements. However, if you do this 3-4 times a week or even every day for a period of 6 weeks, you will experience many benefits.
The Benefits of Hot and Cold Contrast Shower Therapy
Benefits of Hot Water Showers
- Blood vessels dilate and allow smoother and quicker blood flow
- The smooth muscle cells lining your blood vessels relax
- Your body starts using its parasympathetic nervous system which is the state of relaxation
- Improves the efficiency of your mitochondria (think brain health and memory)
Benefits of Cold Water Showers
It should be said, that cold water really means cold. It does not mean lukewarm. The cold water coming out of the showerhead should be in direct contrast to the warm or hot water that you were using prior – ie. very cold.
- Activation of brown fat which is a healthy type of fat. It can help you maintain a healthy body weight long term as well as support healthy blood sugar balance. Brown fat burns more energy than white fat (the dangerous fat). (1)
- Improves mitochondrial function (the energy generators of your cells) as well as mitochondrial biogenesis (increased production of mitochondria.) (2)
- Reduces sickness (3)
- Improved muscle recovery (4)
- Increased immune activity helping with inflammation (5)
- Provides a short burst of stress which can be helpful to the body
- Has an effect on noradrenaline which improves mood and helps reduce anxiety as well as alleviate depression. (6)
- Produces norepinephrine in the brain improving memory and focus and reduce depressive thoughts (7)
- Increases dopamine – the feel-good neurotransmitter and lowers cortisol (8)
- Lowers overall inflammation (9)
- Constricts blood vessels due to vasoconstriction
- Is neuroprotective due to RBM3 (RNA binding-motif-3) in our brain (10)
- Reduced Pain (11)
- Boosts Circulation which also means quicker healing (12)
Consistency is key! Work this into your daily and weekly regimen to see profound healing results.
Who are Hot and Cold Contrast Showers For?
- Those with chronic illnesses like Hashimoto’s, MS, RA, Lupus, Colitis, etc.
- People who live sedentary lives
Contraindications Using Hot and Cold Contrast Showers
Contrast showers, though highly beneficial, are not for everyone. There is also a key tip to understand for those who are trying to lose fat and build muscle.
Don’t do within one hour of strength training or suppression of building muscle mass will happen
Do not do this protocol if you have heart conditions. Though the vasoconstriction can be helpful with some people, it can be risky in others. Be sure to consult your physician if you have cardiovascular dysfunction before undertaking hot and cold contrast showers.
Those with really weak immune systems should not try hot and cold contrast showers as it may be too much of a shock to the system and overwhelm the body.
Try Hot and Cold Contrast Showers for Improved Health
As you have learned the process of showering in hot and cold water has many health benefits.
An every other day protocol I have used for a long time to drastically reduce my Hashimoto’s symptoms is the following:
1 | Jump on my rebounder for 5 minutes to increase lymphatic drainage
3 | I dry brush my entire body
4 | I take a hot shower for 15 minutes while washing all the toxins and sweat off. Finish with 30 seconds of cold showering. (I am working up to a minute – but it’s hard! It’s a mental battle too!)
Let me know if you try hot and cold contrast shower therapy in the comments below!