Hot and cold hydrotherapy is a technique commonly suggested by medical professionals for those suffering from chronic pain and inflammation. When used correctly, hot/cold hydrotherapy can be quite effective at decreasing pain and inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is an Immunovascular (immune system and blood flow) response to an inflammatory stimulus. In a healthy system, the inflammatory response becomes activated, clears the pathogen, begins the healing process, and then ceases.
If the inflammatory stimuli are not removed, the inflammatory response will remain turned on, resulting in an imbalance between the immune and circulatory systems. Blood vessels weaken, the blood continues to coagulate, and debris-destroying white blood cells continue to be secreted by the immune system. This leads to an internal environment that lacks quality blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, and is over flowing with toxic waste. This is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a very serious condition. It is the gateway to poor health, illness and disease.
What is Contrast Hydrotherapy?
So when dealing with chronic inflammatory conditions, is it best to use hot or cold? The answer is both! Contrast hydrotherapy uses hot and cold water to create pumping action within the circulatory, lymphatic, and immune systems. The heat dilates the blood vessels (vasodilation), while the cold constricts them (vasoconstriction.)
Widening the blood vessels speeds up circulation to drive out stagnant fluid and increases circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Vasoconstriction then forces blood away from the area, pushing away the toxic waste so it can be filtered and excreted out of the body. It also helps lock in quality blood and nutrients in an area that has been severely malnourished. Contrast hydrotherapy is a great technique to use in conjunction with other therapies such as acupuncture, massage and exercise.
Contrast hydrotherapy technique for chronic inflammatory conditions:
Hydrotherapy can be done using a hot water bottle/frozen water bottle, a bathtub/shower, a hot/cold rice bag, steam or a sauna.
Hydrotherapy refers to moist heat/cold. Moist heat/cold has been shown to have a greater ability to penetrate the deeper layers of the body, compared to dry heat devices such as a heating pad.
For best results, avoid dry heat devices when performing contrast hydrotherapy.
Contrast hydrotherapy can be done on a local area of the body for pain conditions.
For conditions such as sinus issues, skin conditions, digestive conditions, menstrual cramps, constipation asthma and general immune system enhancement, apply hot and cold therapy systemically or to the lower abdomen.
Contrast hydrotherapy should be performed following a 3:1 minute ratio starting with heat!
Example: submerge foot in a bucket of warm water for 3 minutes then remove and submerge the same foot in a bucket of cool water for 1 minute. Repeat 3-5 times.
Example: Stand in a hot shower for 6 minutes then turn the water to cool for 2 minutes. Repeat 3-5 times.