As mentioned in our previous posts, our skin (as a reflex organ) communicates with the underlying organs of the body and the brain, and perhaps no other treatment demonstrates the immediacy of this level of communication better than Contrast Therapies. This is a great morning routine.
The Contrast Shower, for example, is one of the most efficient ways to boost circulation, metabolism, and one’s immunity acting, in effect, as a tonic for body and mind.
Physiological Effects Include
• An increase in the temperature of the water by as little as 18 degrees F will increase the motility of the red and white blood cells by 2 to 3 times. The greater the difference between the hot and cold, the stronger the reaction.
This is one of the most efficient ways to boost circulation, metabolism, and one’s immunity acting as a tonic for body and mind.
• This is good because the delivery of vital oxygen to all cells is increased, and the white blood cells (which are our defense cells) are more available.
• Warmth alerts the hypothalamus (control center of the brain) via a sweating response, the heat loss center is turned on which prevents the body from overheating
• An increase in the respiration rate encourages greater elimination of carbon dioxide.
• Metabolism increases.
• The skin eliminates urea and uric acid.
• Warmth acts as a sedative to the nerve endings.
In contrast, when a cold application is applied, the brain is also alerted, and we observe vasoconstriction (goosebumps), a protective mechanism to ensure vital heat is not lost from the internal organs.
This occurs by virtue of the cold application stimulating the sympathetic fibers of the nervous system, particularly those of the adrenal glands and the thyroid. The release of thyroxin from the thyroid increases metabolism and boosts immunity.
Secondary Effects to this Therapy Include
• Respiration: Increases the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide.
• Increases uptake or release of glycogen by the liver into the blood.
• Increased motility of the digestive system (aiding digestion and elimination).
• Tone to the muscles of the body and the skin.
The Contrast Shower fully supports the balance of the autonomic nervous system. Its positive effects include energizing, calm, and enhanced focus.
Note of interest: The supposed beauty secret of a French woman is to splash the face and breasts with cold water daily.
In a spa setting, this therapy would typically be administered with a Vichy shower. Your home shower will work perfectly fine.
Stage 1: Three minutes warm, followed by 20 seconds cold.
Stage 2: Repeat, but increase the temperature of the warm and decrease the temperature of the cold (2 minutes hot, 40 seconds cold).
Stage 3: In the final application, again increase the warm and cold temperature for 1 minute each.
Summary: The actions of the short hot will increase vasodilation, circulation, and metabolism while increasing the speed and removal of metabolic waste and toxins. The action of the short cold will cause vasoconstriction, increasing the pump mechanism of the venous system, boosting metabolism and promoting immunity.
Who Should Not do This
Anyone with venous or arterial constrictions; those with cardiac insufficiency.