Ice packs, heat pads, and deep heat gel are familiar tools for rehabilitation. You may have iced an injury in the past, or used heating pad for your lower back, but have you ever switched rapidly between heat and ice? Contrast therapy is a popular rehabilitation and recovery technique that has its roots in ancient naturopathic medicine. Evidence suggests that primitive man instinctively used contrasting temperatures to treat various ailments and maintain health and vigor.
While primitive man probably didn’t understand the physiological mechanisms behind contrast therapy, the pain relief provided was reason enough for them to keep it in their limited health and wellness repertoire. Today, contrast therapy is used most often by athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for quick recovery from training or pain relief from sore muscles and injuries. As the benefits of contrast therapy are becoming more mainstream, the demand for it is growing. But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits contrast therapy can provide – it can be an effective practice for anyone suffering from chronic pains and aches. Some of the benefits of contrast therapy include:
How Does Contrast Therapy Work?
1. Benefits of Heat Therapy
Heat therapy is an effective approach for treating a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Heat therapy requires that the warmth penetrates the skin and reaches the underlying tissues. There are two types of heat therapy: superficial and deep. Superficial heat therapy makes use of heating pads and hot baths, while deep heat therapy requires fancy machines.
Superficial heat therapy is sufficient for gaining therapeutic results by increasing blood flow, causing muscle to relax and and causing connective tissues to gain greater flexibility. Immediate effects include reduced stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms. It’s a fantastic treatment for anyone suffering from arthritis, strains, sprains or muscle spasms.
2. Benefits of Cold Therapy
Cryotherapy is one of the most common ways to treat acute injuries. Ice packs are often the first treatment option recommended after a sprain or strain. Cryotherapy causes your blood vessels to narrow (a process called vasoconstriction), which then reduces the flow of blood towards the injury site. It’s extremely effective for reducing swelling, as well as inflammation.
3. Contrast Therapy Benefits
Contrast therapy works by exerting a physiological effect on the body’s pain gate mechanism. This temporarily alters the pain signals traveling to and from your brain, which can bring a large amount of relief for many people dealing with chronic pain. Both nervous and musculoskeletal system pain can be cured by systematically using contrast baths or saunas.
Because heat expands and cold contracts, contrast therapy is also great for flushing out unwanted stagnant waste in the body by creating a “pumping” mechanism in the body. Contrast therapy can help flush lymph fluid efficiently throughout the body, thus reducing inflammation and the likelihood of getting ill. The pumping mechanism also helps boost the amount of nutrient-rich blood circulating around the body and can help you feel invigorated and alert.
How To Do Contrast Therapy
The easiest and most effective form of contrast therapy is wet therapy, which requires you to submerge yourself and switch between a hot and cold bath. One bath should be filled with hot water, approximately 36 – 43 degrees Celsius, and the cold bath should be between 7 – 21 degrees. Begin by entering the hot bath and stay for around 3-4 minutes before switching immediately to the cold bath for around 1 minute. Always start with heat before moving to cold unless you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, in which case you want to finish on hot. Repeat the steps 3-6 times for a total of around 20-30 minutes.
Take The Plunge At AMO
AMO spa boasts two fantastic plunge pools that are perfect for your wet contrast therapy needs. Our pools overlook lush rice terraces, are consistently at the ideal therapeutic temperatures, and are deep and wide enough for you to submerge your entire body. We also have a sauna for anyone who prefers a milder heat component for their contrast therapy. So whether you’re looking flush out your lymphatic system, or you’re trying to relieve some muscle soreness from that killer workout, come and enjoy our state-of-the-art plunge pools for maximum relief and wellness.
Contrast therapy should not be used by pregnant women due to extreme temperature changes. Due to its expanding properties, heat therapy is not advisable for anyone with an acute injury that has occured in the last 72 hours. It should not be used on any injury that’s particularly swollen or bruised as it could lead to increased swelling. It is also not advisable for anyone with a heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney problems to use contrast therapy. As always, it’s best to speak with a medical professional before embarking on a new rehabilitation regime.