This is a treatment that I often recommend at this time of the year to support the immune system. I also use it to promote detoxification and improve circulation, metabolism and vitality. Patients cringe when I tell them about it, but it often becomes a part of their daily routine because it feels good afterwards!
How do you do it?
- Shower until your body feels warmed.
- Once warmed, turn the water to as hot as tolerable and stay under that water for one minute.
- Turn the water to as cold as tolerable for 30 seconds trying to expose as much of the body to the water as possible.
- Repeat the hot/cold cycle three to five times, with one to two minutes of hot water and 30 seconds of cold water each time.
- End the shower with cold water.
- Work up gradually to a larger temperature contrast and more body surface area under the water - it's okay to start with just your legs in the cold water at first!
- Most people prefer to do alternating showers in the morning because of the invigorating effects, but some people prefer to do them at night as it helps them to sleep.
- The greater the temperature difference between the hot and cold, the larger the effect (within the limits of your body!)
How does this work?
The hot water causes vasodilation of blood vessels which increases blood and lymph flow (important for fighting infection) throughout your body. The cold causes vasoconstriction which allows flushing away of toxins and waste products. The overall effect means increased metabolism and detoxification. It also helps to tighten and tone the skin.
Even if you do not do a contrast shower it is important to always end your showers with cold. Hot water for more than five minutes decreases circulation, but the short cold treatment counteracts this. The cold also creates a reflex effect which allows your body to heat itself more effectively immediately following the shower.
Let me know how it goes!