The Surprising Health Benefits of Hot and Cold Hydrotherapy (Showers)

People are constantly looking for better ways to improve their health that doesn’t require too much time commitment, money, or effort. Although I’d argue that anyone who wants to enjoy good health needs to invest time and money into the process, there are many different ways you can produce results with little to no investment or effort.

Some health promoting activities that cost very little money and effort include sun bathing, grounding, and meditation. All three of these activities can have a profound effect on your health and none of them require too much effort or money (of course location and time of year will have an effect on your ability to do some of these things).

Another activity that doesn’t require anything more than a shower and hot and cold water, is hot and cold hydrotherapy. This age old practice is gathering acceptance by health enthusiasts as a significant way to increase livelihood, and it can take less than 15 minutes of your day.

The health benefits of hot and cold hydrotherapy

So why would you want to subject yourself to what could be described as a sadistic practice? Turns out, there are plenty of reasons and you just may begin to enjoy it once you feel the daily benefits. Some of the health promoting benefits include:

  • Improved circulation – Hot water increases blood flow to the surface of the body and cold water drives blood to the core of the body. This “accordion-like” effect increases blood flow and speeds up circulation, and brings fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients to organs and glands and takes away toxins and pathogens.
  • Reduces muscle pain – Hot and cold cause your muscles to expand and contact, which can create a gentle detoxification as toxins are squeezed from your muscles.
  • Improves lymphatic flow and reduces lymph nodes – Hot and cold water stimulates the lymphatic system by causing it to relax and contract in response to hot and cold water, respectively. This creates a “pump” action which helps move lymphatic fluid which may have become stagnant in the system. This can reduce build up of fluids and ease inflammation, as well as allowing the immune system to attack any foreign pathogens in the fluid.
  • Improves mood and focus – When you’re exposed to cold, your body increases production of norepinephrine in the brain, which is involved in focus and attention. It also improves mood and alleviates pain, partly because it lowers inflammation.
  • Reduction of tumors – Cancerous growths can develop when proper circulation and detoxification can’t be completed by the body. When circulation and detoxification are improved, these growths can be broken down and be removed from the body.

As a result of these health promoting benefits, one may also experience a boost of energy due to the removal of toxins, increased circulation, and improved mood and cognitive function. The makes hot and cold showers a great way to start the day!

How to do hot and cold showers

First of all, the cleanliness of your water is of utmost importance when doing hot and cold showers, so ensure you have a filtration system in place to purify your water, if required.

Secondly, to get more out of your hot and cold shower routine try skin brushing using a natural bristle skin brush. Do this right before you do your hot and cold shower routine for additional benefits. You can learn more about dry skin brushing and how to do it, here.

Lastly, while hot and cold showers are generally safe, if you have any sort of medical condition, discuss it with your doctor beforehand.  Since both hot and cold put stress on your heart and cardiovascular system, it may be contraindicated for those with serious heart conditions. Listen to your body, and go slowly with your hot and cold tolerance and build up to the full routine, if required.

Hot and Cold Shower Routine

  • Get in the shower and get completely wet at a temperature that is completely comfortable for you.
  • Slowly increase the temperature to the point you can barely stand it. Expose all areas of the body to this hotter water, including the top of your head and your face. Do this for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes for more effect.
  • Now turn the water down to the coldest tolerable setting, and expose all areas of the body to this colder water. Do this for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes for more effect.
  • Repeat this alternating hot and cold exposure 5 times or more, always ending with cold.

At first, your hot and cold tolerance may be minimal, and it is important to honour your extremes in the beginning. However, you should work on building up to hotter and colder temperatures to increase your tolerance and the health benefits of the routine.

Enjoy!

Sources for this article include:

Hot and Cold Hydrotherapy – Showers
Hot and Cold Hydrotherapy
Hot and Cold Showers – Lymphatic Cleansing
The Surprising Health Benefits of Hot and Cold Temperatures
Enjoy the Benefits of Hot and Cold Water Therapy