Ice packs, deep heat gel, or heat pads are familiar tools for quick recovery. In past, you might hear the benefits of contrast therapy and you may have applied ice on an injury, or used a heating pad to treat your knee joint or upper/lower back, but have you thought of switching it rapidly between ice and heat?
There are many benefits of contrast therapy and is popular physiotherapy, rehabilitation. A lot of evidence suggests that in our ancient naturopathic medicine hot and cold therapy is used to treat various ailments and to maintain good health.
For cold therapy, a popular alternative to ice baths, cryotherapy, and cryosauna is a super luxury cryo machine that evenly reduces body temperature for one to three minutes.
What is contrast therapy and what exactly it does for your good health?
Contrast therapy is a type of physiotherapy that involves a combination of alternative immersion of treating body parts in warm and cold water. It’s a natural muscle relaxation method, where, you alternate the hot and cold bath in sessions.
The time duration to dip the body part in different water temperatures plays a major role in the outcome of the contract therapy. This rehabilitation therapy helps to improve blood circulation throughout your body. It is usually useful to relieve pain in the Joints, reduce swelling, inflammation and improve body relaxation.
- Hot Water Temperature: 40-45 degrees Celsius
- Cold Water Temperature: 10–15 degrees Celsius
If your muscles are extremely tight and sore, you need a few sessions of it.
What is Cryosauna
Nitrogen-cooled Cryosauna has an extremely low temperature (up to -140°C), which is especially advantageous for pain relief and muscle recovery. From the first session, marked improvements in skin appearance, achiness, and stamina. It helps to boost mood and better quality of sleep.
What is Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold to freeze and remove abnormal tissue. Cryotherapy, which means “cold therapy,” is a technique where the body is exposed to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes.
Cryotherapy is an evidence-based treatment that safely reduces body temperature while increasing endorphins, adrenaline, and oxygen supply.
The benefits of regular cryotherapy are numerous and broad-ranging, including but not limited to:
- Strengthened immune system
- Reduced stress levels (cortisol)
- Increased exercise recovery
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Reduced white fat cells
- A boosted metabolism
- Improved mood and sleep
- Improved skin appearance
- Reduced pain and inflammation
- Rejuvenated and tightened skin
- Stimulated collagen production
- Decreased appearance of acne
- Reduced appearance of eczema
- Diminished appearance of cellulite
- Norepinephrine triggering for depression
How Contrast therapy works (Hot therapy vs cold Therapy/Cryotherapy)
The real reason behind, why contrast therapy work is due to these extremely high and low temperatures have a direct impact on the blood circulation of the body. This is called “vasoconstriction” for the cold bath which is also cryotherapy and “vasodilation” for a hot bath.
During the vasoconstriction process, the heart will beat faster, blood pressure will rise and blood will flow slower. When immersing body part into cold water, the arteries will constrict
The opposite happens in the vasodilation process when an immersed body part is in hot water. The blood vessels will expand which slows down the heart rate and may decrease the body’s blood pressure.
Hence these both process produces vascular exercise which is very beneficial in the reduction of edema/ swelling.
How To Do Contrast Therapy (Steps and Instructions)
Here are the steps that you need to follow for a hot and cold bath alternatively.
- Contrast bath temperatures: Hot water 40-45 degrees C and another one with cold water of 10-15 degrees C.
- Contrast bath times: The most commonly suggested ratio of time in hot water to cold water was from a 4:1 to 3:1 ratio. That means, dip your hand in hot water for 3- 4 minutes, then in cold water for 1 minute
Steps for contrast therapy
- Step 1: Take two containers and fill one container with hot water 104 degrees F (40-45 degrees C) and another one with cold water of 45 to 70 degrees F (10-15C).
- Step 2: Start immersing the treatment body part in hot water and keep it for 3- 4 min.
- Step 3: Then transfer to cold water and keep it for 1 min. Continue this process till water comes to normal temperature.
- Step 4: End with cold water if you need to reduce swelling. End with warm water when treating arthritis pain.
Benefits of contrast therapy
As there are so many benefits of contrast therapy, the demand for it is growing. Nowadays, it is very often used by sportspeople and fitness enthusiasts.
However, it is a very effective technique for anyone suffering from chronic pains and aches. Both hot and cold therapies have their respective benefits.
Heat therapy can speed up the healing process by speeding up the blood circulation which causes the muscle to relax and connective tissues to gain greater flexibility.
It is a very effective approach for treating a variety of musculoskeletal injuries also. It is the best therapy for anyone suffering from arthritis, strains, sprains, or muscle spasms.
Similarly cold therapy (Cryotherapy) also speeds up healing by reducing swelling and inflammation. It is one of the most common ways to treat acute injuries. It is highly recommended after a sprain or strain.
Some of the benefits of contrast therapy include:
- Improved body’s blog Circulation
- Decreased affected part’s Swelling
- Reduced Inflammation of muscles and joints
- Improvement in Muscle Strains
- Increased joint’s Range of Motion
- Reduced Muscle Soreness
- Increased Energy level & body Alertness
- Lower down the tension, anxiety, stress levels.
- Helps to regulate body temperature.
- Reduce chronic pain
Contrast Therapy Can Be used to treat Foot sprains, Ankle sprains, Rheumatoid arthritis, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Soft tissue trauma and many more conditions.
Disadvantages of contrast therapy
Although there are tons of benefits of contrast therapy, extreme cold therapy sometimes may result in ice burns or frostbite. It could also aggravate muscles that increase muscle spasms and make the muscles tighter.
In opposite, very high-temperature water heat might increase the inflammation in the injured area and can risk skin tissue getting burnt.
How does cryotherapy work?
During cryotherapy, the healthcare provider applies extreme cold to abnormal tissue. Cells can’t survive this severe cold and die after treatment. Your healthcare provider can use a few different substances to create the intense cold used in cryotherapy. These substances can include:
- Liquid nitrogen.
- Liquid nitrous oxide.
- Argon gas.
External cryotherapy causes frozen skin to blister and peels off so that healthy new skin can grow. When abnormal cells freeze and die during internal cryotherapy, your immune system helps clear the tissue out of the body.
What happens after cryotherapy?
Upon exiting the cryotherapy sauna, your body will take between 5-15 minutes to readjust and revert to its normal temperature.
During this time, newly invigorated blood will flow back into the arms and legs, causing veins to dilate and improve overall circulation. As you warm up from cold therapy, it is normal for the skin to appear red and/or for a tingling sensation to occur throughout the body.
You are encouraged to move around and re-dress for your body to regain its normal temperature and fully experience the range of benefits cryotherapy offers.
Have you experienced cryotherapy before?
Flocryo offers a revolutionizing cold therapy for active and busy people who are dealing with pain, injury, or fatigue and athletes in peak performance. Flocryo is an innovative practice offering rapid recovery and relief.
Unlike some intrusive treatments with side effects, we offer safe and affwordable treatments to help you to live your life without limitations. It’s convenient, easy to use, and a full-body cold plunge experience.
Utilize our services to bio-hack your health and improve your vitality. We are located at the Sports Hub in Bokarina on the Sunshine Coast.
- Glen A. Halvorson , MD, “Therapeutic Heat and Cold for Athletic Injuries” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913847.1990.11710045
- Donna E. Breger, Rolando Lazaro, Joy C. MacDermid, “A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Contrast Baths” Published: Oct 23, 2008 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jht.2008.08.001
- Craig R Denegar, Devon R Dougherty, Jacob E Friedman, “Preferences for heat, cold, or contrast in patients with knee osteoarthritis affect treatment response”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920200/Donna Breger Stanton, Jane, Mark Graziano, Christine Ryan “Contrast baths: what do we know about their use?” DOI: https://doi.org/10.1197/S0894-1130(03)00161-3