We all enjoy and know the benefits of a nice warm shower. You’ve probably also know that cold showers have some positive health benefits.
But are you aware of the benefits of contrast showers?
If you’re interested in trying something a little different that combines the best of both cold and warm showers then read on.
What Are Contrast Showers?
A contrast shower is when you alternate between hot and cold water while in the shower.
So, it’s not strictly a cold shower, neither when you step in or as some people do it by turning the water to cold once before the shower is over.
Neither is it a nice warm shower that most of us look forward to and enjoy in the mornings.
It’s when you change the water from warm to cold, to warm, back to cold, etc.
There are some different methods of doing this. The general rule of thumb is to have 3 minutes of hot water, followed by 1 minute of cold water before swapping back to hot.
The key is to make sure the water is fairly hot, as well as being turned to very cold. You only need to alternate 3-4 times for the complete contrast shower experience.
Benefits of Contrast Showers
By alternating between hot and cold temperatures you dilate your blood vessels with the hot water and stimulate better blood circulation.
While the cold water decreases blood flow, causing a ‘pump effect’ in your body which flushes toxins, stimulates your natural healing process, strengthens your immune system, and much more as I will explain.
Improves Blood Circulation
Much like massage therapy, contrast showers stimulate better blood circulation which has a number of positive health benefits.
The reason for this is called vasoconstriction. Which means your blood vessels are constricting and your blood pressure increases as a result of the cold water. And vice versa when you swap to the hot water.
Health circulation has a positive effect on health, from internal organs operating better, to generally looking and feeling great.
Helps Flush Toxins
We are all carrying toxins in our bodies, some of us more than others. Our lymphatic system is responsible for flushing these toxins, and a little help doesn’t go amiss.
Contrast showers cause the body to contract, along with improving blood circulation as discussed above this aids the lymphatic system in flushing out more (potentially) harmful toxins.
Similar to a massage, you might feel sluggish the first few showers as your body deals with the extra workload.
But after your body has caught up you’ll noticeably feel healthier both inside and out.
Improves the Look and Feel of Hair and Skin
As much as hot showers feel great, they aren’t the best for our hair and skin. Hot showers can dry out our skin and cause split ends and tired looking hair over time.
Alternating between hot and cold water stimulates the body to flush more toxins, and stimulate more blood flow to your skin, particularly the scalp.
The hot water opens pores to help clean them out, and the cold closes pores, strengthening hair and giving skin a glowing look and feel.
Strengthens Your Immune System
There is no better time to start taking contrast showers than when the winter months are drawing in as it gives your immune system a boost.
As you are probably well aware, the stronger your immune system the better you can fight off illnesses and the better you’ll feel generally speaking.
The science behind this is because the bursts of cold water boost your levels of white blood cells, instrumental in fighting viruses and illness.
This is probably the benefits I noticed most when I started taking contrast showers. I was burning the candle at both ends and picking annoying colds and illnesses too often.
When I started contrast showers and some other positive lifestyle changes I noticed an improvement in my general health, weight, and wellbeing.
There is no denying the benefits of taking contrast showers, so why do more people not do it?
For the reason you’re thinking of I bet – the thought of standing under a cold shower first thing in the morning is terrifying!
But it doesn’t need to be, and take it from me, once you start taking cold or contrast showers it becomes very easy.
There are a couple of ways you can approach switching away from warm showers to contrast showers:
Just do it without overthinking it and braving the inevitable shock.
Or, adjusting over time.
If you’re able to mentally prepare yourself to just brave the cold water and physically do it, then great! Do it.
If you need some time to adjust don’t worry, I did too.
You can either start lowering the temperature of your shower each day or turn the water to cold and slowly introduce yourself to the water.
Whichever method works for you, you’re going to have to take the plunge at some point and it’s almost all mental.
You need to get your mind focused on the goal. Think about why you’re doing it and the benefits you’re going to see and feel as a result.
That’s it. Good luck switching to contrast showers, once you do there is no looking back. It’s a positive lifestyle change and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.