For many people, the daily shower is a sacred ritual, a time to disconnect and relax with pampering products under a steady water flow.
I love using eucalyptus mist and listening to calming music to create a spa atmosphere. Sometimes I even do a cold rinse at the end to mimic that spa cold dip feel.
But recently, I learned about another way to incorporate the temperature change into my shower routine: the contrast shower.
What is contrast shower?
“Contrast showering is when you change the temperature of the water from hot to cold and back again,” said Dr. Nina Vasan, psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Mental Health Forum. Real, “Typically, this takes several cycles of switching between hot and cold water and lasts anywhere from 5-10 minutes total.”
Also known as contrast hydrotherapy, the contrast shower is very straightforward, there are different ways to perform it. You can use hot water for about three minutes, then switch to cold water for one minute, or you can alternate short increments of 15 seconds.
Unless you stick to the general concept of therapeutic switching between hot and cold, you’re taking a contrast shower. Most of the literature about the subject recommends you finished on coldhowever.
what are the benefits?
“Contrast showers have the ability to increase your energy,” Wasson said. “The startling quality of changing from hot to cold water can provide a quick burst of energy and alertness.”
If you’ve ever gone from a hot tub or sauna to a cold shower, you’ve definitely experienced that kind of shock.
The dermatologist said, “Our bodies tend to adapt to the temperature of the water in order to be comfortable, so a contract shower ‘shocks’ the system by switching the temperature just as our body begins to adapt to the previous temperature ” Dr. Lauren Ploch,
“People also report feeling more focused after taking a contrast shower,” he said. “We know that contrast showers increase blood flow throughout the body, and that increased blood flow to the brain can affect the ability to concentrate.”
The idea is that hot water dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the surface of the skin, while cold water constricts blood vessels and pushes blood to the organs.
However, the potential benefits of contrast showers have not yet been fully studied in a scientifically meaningful way.
“The benefits have not been proven anecdotal,” Ploch said. “Most of the data is from cold water submersion, which is a different technique that involves sitting in very cold water for three minutes. Some of the reported benefits include improved circulation, increased immune system function, and reduced muscle soreness. shortage is included.
Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and chair of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, also pointed to the limited science surrounding contrast showers and warned against the potential for thermal burns if you’re not careful.
“I don’t know how big of a problem it is, but I would be concerned about the potential for skin burns,” he said. “Cold showers can have a mild anesthetic component, so when you flip the switch and turn on the hot water, you could potentially be exposing yourself to water that’s hotter than you realize. “
Friedman said that excessive cycling puts stress on the body, which can have potentially negative consequences.
“All in all, I don’t see a biological advantage,” he said. “However, a large part of health care and treatment is also a placebo, so if someone thinks it’s doing something, it probably is. Everyone is unique, and if someone finds a routine that works for them, seems to help them, so I am not going to discredit it or say they are making it up. There are many factors that go into why this helped one person or a handful of people Can. It’s complicated.”
really, a 2014 study out of Australia found that although contrast showers did not speed recovery in athletes, their perception of recovery after contrast showers was better than their perception after more traditional methods.
“The findings indicate that contrast water therapy and contrast shower did not accelerate physical recovery in elite netballers following a netball specific circuit,” the researchers said. “(h) However, the psychological benefits from both interventions should be considered when determining the appropriateness of these recovery interventions in team sports.”
How can you implement contrast showering into your daily routine?
“Contrast showers are best in the morning because the cold temperatures are stimulating,” said Ploch. “Many people use this technique after a stressful workout because it can reduce muscle soreness.”
That being said, there are no hard and fast rules around the best time to take a contrast shower—or just a regular shower, for that matter.
Wasson said, “I believe it depends on your personal preference when you shower.” “For some people, taking a contrast shower is better for waking up in the morning. For others, taking this type of shower in the evening helps reduce wind.
Although people have reported positive results from contrast showers, it doesn’t mean they’re for everyone.
“Very hot showers can dry out the skin, so I don’t recommend hot showers or contrast showers in people with dry skin or atopic dermatitis — eczema,” Ploch said. “Because the benefits are not proven, it’s fun to try but not necessary to incorporate into your routine unless you enjoy how you feel.”