For hundreds of years, people in some of the coldest regions of the earth have practiced jumping from hot saunas to cold bodies of water as a form of healing and relaxation. This treatment, often referred to as contrast bath therapy, may be used to decrease pain and swelling, control inflammation and improve mobility. Let’s take a look at how contrast bath therapy affects the body.
First, the heat from the hot water gets blood moving. Steam from the tub also opens the pores on skin, allowing toxins to escape the body. The combination of the steam and the sweat it might prompt helps to dilate blood vessels and increase circulation. The increase in blood circulation not only delivers oxygen to the skin, but also allows tight muscles to relax. Once the pores are nice and open, it’s time to close them up!
The jump from hot water to cold is a minor shock to the system. In response to this shock, the body takes deep breaths. This second increase in oxygen intake helps the body warm back up after the initial shock of the cold water. Heart rate increases, pumping more blood throughout the body. As the blood shoots through the body and surrounds organs, arteries are forced to pump blood more efficiently, which helps boost overall heart health. This rush of blood also causes an increase in adrenaline and endorphins. Finally, the cold water closes up the now detoxified pores, restoring the body to its original (but now cleaner and more relaxed) state.
Overall, contrast bath therapy can be used to decrease swelling, improve heart health, control inflammation, reduce pain from injury and help with relaxation. Before trying this treatment at home, ensure water temperatures are not so hot they can burn skin, and not so cold they hurt the skin. Repeat the jump from hot to cold three times to feel the full effect of the treatment.
Interested in trying this therapy? Start by checking out our spas!