What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy generally refers to the use of water at various temperatures to affect different systems of the body. Most people, when discussing hydrotherapy as a health modality, are talking about the practice of using cold water, or alternating hot and cold water, to achieve improved circulation, immune support and to alleviate pain and soreness. It’s cliché to tell someone to take a cold shower when they need to cool it sexually, but the reality is that cold water therapy has some pretty amazing benefits that have been espoused for millennia in traditional modalities like Kundalini Yoga, and have recently been confirmed by science.
Cold Hydrotherapy to Boost Energy and Immune Function
You might be shocked to learn that one of the most effective immune stimulating practices you can do on a daily basis is exposure to cold stress, like through short cold showers. Daily cold stress dramatically increases anti-tumor activity in mice, decreases signs of muscle damage and fatigue post-workout, and has analgesic (or pain-killing) effects. Longer cold showers or cold baths, between 50- and 59-degrees Fahrenheit, have been shown to dramatically decrease post-workout muscle pain. Cold hydrotherapy is also being researched for its antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. Many people who practice daily cold showers report feeling more awake, refreshed and energetic, even long after their hydrotherapy session.
Surprising Benefits of Alternating Cold and Hot Showers
Utilizing cold stress through short bursts of cold water alternating with longer bursts of hot water increases blood circulation both to the internal organs, as well as to the periphery (think fingers, toes, skin), improving detoxification. Keep that in mind the next time you have a few too many at the office party! Detoxification is very important in keeping the body in balance and functioning optimally, which can be achieved with very little extra time or effort by integrating cold water hydrotherapy into your daily routine. Cold water hydrotherapy also improves mood and energy, a winning combo!
How to Integrate Hydrotherapy in Your Life
Jumping into a cold shower might give you cold feet, so here are some tips to try. Start with a hot shower for 5 minutes, then do alternating cold bursts for 30 seconds to a minute, followed by three minutes of hot water; repeat this cycle 3 to 5 times. Be sure to always end with at least 30 seconds of cold water to close your pores and give you that extra pep in your step! After a workout, try alternating hot and cold showers, or take a 5 minute cool shower (70 degrees or so) followed by alternating cold and hot water. Set yourself a challenge to try some form of cold hydrotherapy every day for two weeks and make some notes about how you feel. Adding a few minutes of cold water daily is an easy way to increase your vitality and rev up your overall health game! And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of clean, pure water daily. Water is life!