Have you ever heard of a contrast shower?
That’s when you change your water temperature from hot to cold in a repeated pattern as you take a shower. It can also be called contrast water hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy in general has been used to centuries to improve health and treat diseases1. There are multiple types of hydrotherapy which include being exposed to water of different temperatures, including ice and steam, and even doing exercises in water.
Hydrotherapy in general can benefit almost every part of our body including:
- The cardiovascular system – exposure to cold water increases blood flow, while exposure to heat, like through sauna, can normalize blood fat2,3.
- The lungs – hot water exposure can help increase oxygen transport, and cold water can help prevent disease4,5.
- The brain and nervous system – hydrotherapy can decrease fatigue and improve depressive symptoms6,7.
- Your immunity – hydrotherapy can increase immune cells and their activity, especially if you expose your body to cold water daily or over a long period of time8,9.
Contrast showers for wellbeing and health
Contrast showers in particular can help with combatting fatigue and feeling more refreshed10. It might just be a great way to boost your energy when you find yourself tired or if your energy levels are down.
Alongside that, cold exposure can be helpful for those that want to lose weight. We have two types of fat, white adipose tissue, which we use to store energy, and brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue is used to help us regulate body temperature and is active when we shiver11. When we’re cold, the brown adipose tissue increases its metabolism, helping us maintain temperature while burning triglycerides, or stored fats12. Therefore, the cold part of the contrast shower can potentially increase our ability to burn fat, as the brown adipose tissue will be activated.
For those that care about their mental health and mood, the cold aspect of the contrast shower can bring about multiple benefits. Cold water exposure has been suggested to improve low mood when done over a long time. It can improve feelings of being energized, increase optimism, and even improve work performance13. It may also increase our enthusiasm and self-esteem14.
If you’re finding yourself struggling with your mood, you might also ensure you’re taking in enough vitamin D and omega-3s, which play a role in mood. Vitamin D regulates serotonin and melatonin, which are neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleep15. Maxler Vitamin D tabs provide your daily dose of the vitamin in an easy manner.
Omega-3s also regulate neurotransmitters and might decrease inflammation, which can help in improving mood16. Maxler Omega-3 Gold provides 330mg of omega-3s in each capsule, allowing you to stay on top of your omega-3 intake.
Contrast showers for athletes
Hydrotherapy is becoming a popular form of recovery for athletes, as immersion into alternating hot and cold water can be done conveniently through contrast showers. It can improve recovery through improving later performance, decreasing the perception of tiredness and soreness, and even reducing edema, which is when parts of our body swell17.
Contrast water therapy can benefit those that have an intense training schedule and need to recover quickly, as it can help decrease fatigue and return to baseline in performance18.
For those that struggle with DOMS, which is when muscles become sore the next day after working out, contrast showers can be beneficial. They can assist recovery and restore performance when compared to passive recovery techniques19. It changes blood flow in the body because during periods of cold water our blood vessels constrict, and during periods of hot water, they relax. This promotes circulation and clearance of lactate, which contributes to muscle fatigue20.
If you’re someone that experiences DOMS, you can try combining contrast showers with other approaches to improve your recovery. One of these approaches may be supplements and nutrition strategies. Next time, try curcumin supplements after your workout – they might decrease pain and inflammation21.
Maxler Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine is an effective vegan capsule that contains 1350mg of curcumin coupled with BioPerine, an extract from black pepper. BioPerine makes it easier for the body to absorb curcumin, leading to a more effective supplement.
How do I get started?
It’s very simple to take a contrast shower. First off, start with a warm or hot shower. Enjoy the temperature for around 5 minutes, before switching your tap to a cold setting. Stick to a minute for the cold water. Go back to the warm temperature and repeat this cycle up to five times.
Make sure though, to finish your shower with cold water. Having a larger difference between temperatures can increase the effect of the shower. You can also work up to tolerating cold water for longer periods of time, so don’t be discouraged if you need extra time to get used to it. Pair the shower with active music you like to help you brave the cold!