The ancient practice of contrast showers is also referred to as ‘contrast hydrotherapy’, and has been gaining popularity in recent years due to the numerous health benefits it offers, and could be the easiest and most effective way to support our overall health, our immune system, detoxification pathways, and regulate our hormonal system.
By alternating between hot then cold water repeatedly, we change our body temperature from hot to cold and back again several times. The blood vessels dilate when exposed to hot water, pushing the blood to the skin’s surface, and the cold water induces the blood vessels to constrict, causing the blood to go deeper into our vital organs - a natural reaction trying to conserve our natural core temperature.
This vasoconstriction and vasodilation helps to improve overall function of our internal organs, our blood circulation and stimulates the lymph. Better circulation also means we can heal faster, as nutrients are transported around the body more effectively, maintaining the health of our bodily systems including the immune system. The contrast in temperature increases the number of disease-fighting immune system cells, and with the assistance of our lymphatic system, help eliminate harmful toxins and other metabolites from our tissues, which can contribute to hormonal disruption and imbalances.
In addition, when we sleep, our body temperature lowers, so contrasting showers are beneficial before bedtime to signify to the body to start the temperature lowering process, so we can relax into a nourishing night's sleep.
The cold water is also very stimulating for our brain, releasing endorphins, which have a pain-relieving effect, thus lowering discomfort, enhancing many other positive changes within, including making us more mentally alert, whilst boosting our overall sense of well-being.
To contrast shower, start with warm to hot water for three to five minutes, then turn the temperature down to very cold for at least 20 seconds (building up to a full minute over time), and repeat the cycle three to five times, each time increasing and decreasing the temperature from hotter to colder, but make sure to always end on cold.