Contrast therapy is a healing method that involves using hot and cold water. Athletes commonly use this type of therapy after training. It can also be used by anyone suffering from muscle pain due to injuries, overexertion, and other factors.
What is Contrast Therapy?
Contrast therapy uses alternating hot and cold treatments to stimulate the immune system.
The concept of contrast therapy has been used for thousands of years, but it’s only been since the 20th century that scientists have understood how it works. Alternating between cold and hot water produces more blood flow to your muscles, which helps you recover faster from injuries or soreness.
There are different ways to do this, but the most common methods include the following:
- Taking a cold shower or bath
- Putting ice packs on sore areas of the body
- Going swimming in cold water
- Using a contrast bathtub.
For optimal results, contrast therapy can be used alone or in combination with other therapies, such as antibiotics or surgery.
Tips For Successful Contrast Therapy
Increase Contrast as You Progress
Start with a hot session followed by a cold one, and then increase the time spent on each. You can start with 20 seconds in each phase and work up to 1 minute in each phase over time.
Stretch During Hot Sessions
It’s essential to stretch before an exercise session, but you should also stretch during your hot phase. Stretching helps loosen your muscles up even more.
Be Prepared Ahead of Time
Before starting a contrast therapy session, ensure you know what to expect, including how long it will last, what you’ll need to bring, and how long it will take between treatments.
Hydration is key during contrast therapy sessions because it can cause dehydration. Ensure to drink lots of water before and after your treatment so that you don’t end up feeling worse than before you started it.
Determine Your Goals Before Starting the Treatment
Are you trying to treat chronic pain? Do you want to improve blood circulation, or do you want to relax after a long day at work? Once you know what you want from this treatment, it will be much easier to determine how much time and effort it will take to achieve those goals and how often you should use contrast therapy each day to see results.
What are the Benefits Of Contrast Therapy?
Contrast therapy has been shown to reduce pain in patients with chronic back pain, arthritis, or fibromyalgia. Alternating between hot and cold water causes vasodilation (widening blood vessels) and vasoconstriction (narrowing blood vessels). This process helps bring more blood flow to the treated area, which helps reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Contrast therapy increases blood flow to the skin and muscles by causing vasodilation of the blood vessels in your extremities. It helps deliver oxygen to these tissues and removes metabolic waste products from them more efficiently.
Reduced Fatigue and Physical Stress
Contrast therapy reduces fatigue and physical stress by stimulating blood flow to your muscles and organs. It helps increase oxygen levels in your blood, which improves muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and recovery time after workouts or athletic events.
Relaxation of Muscles
Hot water relaxes the muscles by increasing blood flow and improving circulation throughout the body.
Swelling is a common side effect after an injury or surgery and can make you uncomfortable. Contrast therapy helps reduce swelling by increasing blood flow to the affected area. It reduces pain improves mobility, and relieves any discomfort caused due to swollen tissues and muscles.
What Conditions Does Contrast Therapy treat?
Contrast therapy is a treatment that uses both hot and cold to help relax muscles and reduce inflammation. It can be used as a way to treat several conditions, including;
- Shoulder pain
- Ligament injuries
- Muscle injuries
- Rheumatoid arthritis,
- Ankle sprains
Is Contrast Therapy safe?
The answer is yes.
Contrast therapy is safe when administered by a trained professional, but it’s important to note that it’s not without risks. If you are considering this treatment, you should ensure your doctor is well-versed in its use and what precautions to take.
Speak with your doctor about your health concern before trying the therapy. People with high blood pressure, heart problems, open wounds, or vein thrombosis should seek guidance from a specialist, especially trying out full or partial immersion.
How Does Body Contrast Work?
The body has an internal temperature regulation system that adjusts the body’s temperature in response to outside factors like temperature and humidity. The heat-sensitive receptors in your skin will send signals to your central nervous system when they detect temperature changes, causing your body to react accordingly.
Contrast therapy can be performed at home with a hot/cold pack or in a spa setting with specialized equipment. One of the most common forms of contrast therapy is “hot tub” therapy.
The therapy can be administered by alternating between hot and cold water.
- You’ll need to start by immersing your body or injured part in warm water for 3 min
- Alternate by inserting it in cold water for 1 min.
- Repeat the process for 20 mins, and ensure you end with cold water.
Who Can Benefit from Contrast Therapy?
Contrast therapy is great for those who suffer from chronic pain or headaches as it can help to reduce muscle tension and inflammation.
Contrast therapy is also ideal for athletes who want to increase their performance levels. The alternating temperatures help to improve circulation and make muscles more flexible.
How often should I use contrast therapy?
The frequency of contrast therapy depends on your goals. To improve your fitness, you can use contrast therapy daily. If you want to improve your health, 1-2 times per week is enough. After an intense workout, the best thing to do is take contrast therapy.
Contrast therapy is linked to improved circulation and decreased muscle soreness. You can apply it to your whole body or particular aches and pains. Try these contrast therapy tips the next time you have overworked a muscle or feel sore.