Curious About Trying Contrast Therapy?
If you’re someone who trains hard often, you’re probably seeking the most effective recovery methods as well. One way to improve post-exercise recovery that’s been gaining more popularity is contrast therapy. This practice combines hot sauna sessions with ice bath plunges for a wide range of health benefits, especially for athletes. And, beyond the physiological benefits, an elevated mood and improved cognition are common for many contrast therapy practitioners. So how do you know if it’s a smart addition to your daily routine? To help you understand whether taking a cold plunge after saunas is a healthy habit for you to establish, we’ve put together this article.
What Order Should You Do Contrast Therapy?
Contrast therapy involves alternating between exposure to high heat and cold water, usually between a hot sauna and an ice bath tub. So does it matter which order you perform these intense activities? It may seem at first like hopping into a hot sauna after taking a cold plunge makes the most sense, but is this true if you’re trying to gain the greatest benefits from contrast therapy?
Unfortunately for those seeking the most comfort, the far safer and more beneficial order for contrast therapy is doing your hot sauna session first for around 20 minutes, then taking a cold plunge for three to five minutes. If you really want, you can go ahead and do cold, hot, cold by doing 2-3 minutes in the cold plunge, then moving to the sauna for 20 minutes and finally returning to the cold plunge for another few minutes to close out the session. The important thing it just to always end in the cold!!
Because contrast therapy produces rapid changes in your circulatory system, it’s crucial to take each step in order to prevent adverse effects such as drop in blood pressure, dizziness, or (even greater) discomfort.
When done correctly, contrast therapy affords many types of health benefits, including faster training recovery times, alleviation of pain, and a more focused mental state. But only as long as it’s done in order.
How is heat exposure before a cold plunge a healthy habit?
Improves your blood circulation
Quickly switching between hot and cold conditions triggers your body to naturally increase blood flow. This process involves alternating between constriction and dilation of blood vessels, improving vascular and cardiac response.
Clears bodily toxins and lactic acid
Regular hard exercise leads to a lactic acid build-up in your muscles. Although a normal side-effect, it can be incredibly painful to the point of tempting you to skip a workout. Easing lactic acid buildup side effects normally requires rest, plenty of water, or even taking a magnesium supplement.
But, one of the best methods to reduce lactic acid is contrast therapy. In study after study, it’s been found that contrast therapy helps decrease lactic acid buildup, empowering you to recover from soreness and fatigue far sooner.
Increased fatigue resistance and energy levels
In 2017, a research study found that alternating between hot saunas and cold plunges aided team sports players in fatigue recovery within 24-48 hours of their game, but using an ice bath alone didn’t reproduce these results.
Minimizes DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness)
DOMS makes working out so much more difficult. When soreness from intense workouts sets in multiple days later, it can inhibit sports performance and heighten injury risk. Contrast therapy has been proven to lessen the effects of DOMS and reduce its occurrence in athletes.
Helps reduce painful inflammation
Alternating from hot saunas to ice baths can help reduce painful inflammation, which is all too familiar for those experiencing muscle soreness or sports injuries often.
Could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
In a 20-year, 2,300 participant study, Dr. Jari Laukkanen and his colleagues at the University of Eastern Finland found that routine sauna use lowered the risk for Alzheimer's disease as well as Dementia.
When is the best time for contrast therapy? | Sauna and Cold Plunge
Contrast therapy can be practiced almost any time and any place with a RENU Therapy sauna and cold plunge tub combo. Many people are able to make it a daily routine with these in-home therapy tools. So is there a best time?
Experts recommend contrast therapy directly after intense workouts to help prevent post-workout soreness and inflammation.
Of course, sometimes contrast therapy isn’t the best route, like after suffering from heat stroke (hyperthermia) or when you’ve been dealing with cardiovascular issues like a heart attack. In these cases, it’s safer to avoid extreme swings in temperature. Whatever your health condition, consult your doctor before starting contrast therapy to be certain it’s safe for you.
How to do contrast therapy in your own home
RENU allows you to adjust your hot sauna to between 150-195°F, and your cold plunge to between 39-55°F. Keeping each unit close together helps minimize any delay between changing positions, ensuring maximum benefits and minimum discomfort.
Just follow these steps once your equipment is all set up in your home:
- Sit inside a hot sauna for up to twenty minutes
- Follow the hot sauna session with a cold plunge for up to ten minutes
How frequently can you do contrast therapy?
If you find it beneficial, contrast baths can be taken every day. Actually, evidence suggests more regular and frequent use of contrast therapy produces greater long-term benefits. Many of these studies have found significant differences between those who practice contrast therapy off and on and those who do regularly for a minimum of four days per week on average.
Save with a RENU Therapy Hot Sauna and Ice Tub pairing
RENU builds its cold plunge tubs and hot saunas 100% in the USA. RENU gives you the ultimate in warranty coverage, always striving for 100% customer satisfaction! We build a wide range of cold plunge tub styles and hot saunas to perfectly fit your home's design. All of our contrast therapy products feature world-class designs that will enhance the beauty of any home.
Benefit from contrast therapy right at home
Email or call RENU Therapy today and discover how you can get free curbside delivery and easily set up your contrast therapy system in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about our 5% Discount for a Hot Sauna and Cold Plunge Combo! If you prefer hot water over a sauna….keep a look out on the RENU Therapy website for news about the upcoming release of our new RENU Japanese Hot Soak Tubs!!